5 Book Recommendations from Sojourn Strategies

As a team we’re always in learning mode if that is for our work, our research, or our own personal growth. Here are a few books our team is digging into this summer. They deal with a range of topics from liberation to power to hope.

The Anger Gap, Davin L. Phoenix

The Anger Gap is a book that explores how much anger different racial groups hold towards politics and also how that anger impacts their political behavior. Phoenix examines data that covers 40 years and finds that while white people are more likely to feel high levels of anger towards politics, Black people, as well as Latinx and Asian American people feel less anger towards politics. Further Phoenix finds that while for white people anger towards politics correlates with increased participation, anger is actually not a useful prime for political action for Black people. Meaning that for Black people and other people of color the relationship between anger towards politics and political participation is much weaker. Coming off of the 2020 elections when often anger and fear is used as a way to motivate voters it is incredibly important to know that such narratives might actually depress turnout for Black people. Phoenix also finds what he calls enthusiasm are better frameworks to be used with people of color. The emotions of pride and hope and especially pride are much better ways to increase political action among Black and Latinx people.

Katrina chose this book because as Sojourn Strategies continues to work with clients to conduct research to better understand the nuances of political identity and how to build political power within Black and other communities of color, The Anger Gap is a book we return to over and over again as a reference. It has been an inspiration and extremely informative to our work.

Let My People Vote, Desmond Meade

In Let my People Vote Desmond Meade, a powerful national leader, tells his personal story about his life, his experience as a returning citizen and how he built a movement that many thought was impossible to pass Amendment 4 in Florida which restored voting rights to millions of Floridians.

Katrina chose this book because the fight for restoration of rights in this country still remains. Through Meade’s leadership there is a growing movement to not only restore voting rights for returning citizens but also build political power for directly impacted communities. Sojourn Strategies is launching a project on rights restoration and we couldn’t think of a better way to ground and shape our thinking than Let my People Vote. 

Libertie, Kaitlyn Greenidge

Libertie is a powerful historical novel that digs into questions of freedom for Black people. It tells the story of a young Black woman during the post Civil War era. It is inspired by the life of Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first Black woman to become a doctor in the state of New York, and her daughter. It also addresses questions of colorism, classism, and patriarchy within the Black community. Through a beautifully written story, Greenidge explores Black liberation and personal freedom.

Katrina chose this book because it feels like a history and political lesson all wrapped up in an engaging story.

Being Black, by Angela Kyodo Williams

Being Black encourages Black people to explore buddhist principles to achieve more self-awareness as we navigate through deep rooted racism in the United States. This is not an attempt to eliminate traditional religious beliefs, but it is an effort to use these principles and channel a “warrior spirit”, a life of fearlessness, courage, and determination.

Destiney chose this book because it is validating the Black experience but it also offers a lot of community empowerment too. Being Black in America is a complex experience and this book offers truthful principles to reach ultimate self-acceptance as we navigate through the daily challenges.

The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein

The Color of Law guides the reader through research that clearly demonstrates how local, state, and federal governments have long employed racially discriminatory policies to deny Blacks the opportunity to live in neighborhoods with jobs, good schools and the possibility of upward mobility.

Colline chose this book because The Color of Law is an opportunity to understand the depths of racial discrimination and divide, the role of government in it, and why we as a collective should get involved locally where the fight for redistricting is currently alive and well. At least once per decade, the district lines are redrawn, block by block. Our districts determine who we vote for in key positions like our city council, school board, state legislators and our members of congress. Our districts also determine the funding allocations for our schools, roads and infrastructure, and more. How districts are drawn this year will remain in place for another decade, read about the issue and get involved in your communities. Check out this post from State Voices about redistricting here.

Ordering books online is an easy and convenient way to keep your reading list going. We support local bookshops by shopping at bookshop.org and at our locally owned bookstores. And if you need more than our 5 book recommendations above to support your reading habits, check out this list from Powell’s, 50 Books for 50 Years, “that comes from this place of self-reflection…not only showing us who we have been as a country and a species and where we are going, but the power of the right words, at the right time, to act as a mirror and a beacon.” 

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