It's summer, and that means it's time to handle that reading pile that never seems to get enough of your attention. If you're looking for a great read, we have you covered.
We asked the smartest people we know - PUGS instructors and recent participants - to recommend their favorite books to read. Arnoldo Ruiz and Nicole Lindahl, faculty for our Mass Incarceration in Oregon class, recommended two criminal justice reads:
Becoming Ms. Burton by Susan Burton and Cari Lynn is the story Burton, a nationally known advocate for restoring civil and human rights to formerly incarcerated women. She founded and serves as Executive Director for A New Way of Life, a nonprofit that offers housing and other support to former women prisoners. Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, said of the book: "Susan's life story is one our nation desperately needs to hear and understand."
They also recommended Until We Reckon by Danielle Sered, which sets out the case for a restorative approach to violent crime. More than half the people incarcerated in America have committed violent offences but most rehabilitation programs focus solely on nonviolent offenders. In a review, Nick Turner of Vera Institute of Justice, called it a "must-read for anyone who truly wants to dismantle mass incarceration."
A participant in Propaganda 101 had a very topical recommendation: The instructor's book!
Ben DeJarnette wrote Reimagining Journalism in a Post-Truth World: How Late-Night Comedians, Internet Trolls, and Savvy Reporters Are Transforming News. In it, DeJarnette and coauthor Ed Madison explain how cozy relationships between journalists and political insiders created blockbuster news while eroding the role of the Fourth Estate. Jan Schaffer, Executive Director of American University's J-Lab, said: "More than bemoan how fake news and political propaganda are impersonating journalism, the authors offer solutions that need to be more seriously embraced than past journalism reform efforts."
Denise Luk and Breesa Culver, instructors for our Reading Decolonizing Wealth class, made recommendations that align with their racial justice work.
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, is by social justice facilitator adrienne maree brown, and is a radical self-help book that trains readers to see the structural problems that are harming ourselves, our societies, and our planet. Public Books called it "a manual for facing the most urgent crises of our time - environmental collapse, late capitalism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy - without drowning in the enormity of the task."
The instructors also recommended White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, which unpacks the protective social structures that insulate white people from race-based stress and create circumstances in which they have no tolerance for any amount of racial stress. It examines how white fragility works and offers a path to building capacity. In an interview with Teaching Tolerance, DiAngelo explains why she thinks intentions are irrelevant and white people should focus on their impact instead:
"A lot of groups that come together to have these discussions generate a list of guidelines or ground rules. And if we really looked critically at those, I think we would see that mostly they’re about maintaining white comfort. They presume a lack of differential power in the space. But power relations are always at play, and people are in different power positions in that room. So the very things that might make a white person feel comfortable may be exactly what says to a person of color, “Do not be authentic; do not be yourself. Do not show your emotions. Do not get upset. Do not be angry..."
Prefer to take your readings in testimonial form? Environmental Justice 101 faculty Sam Diaz has you covered. He recommended an event that celebrates diverse movement leaders by sharing their stories in their own words.
Hosted by Opal on July 10, A Movement of Movements is an evening of storytelling with speakers including Portland City Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty, East County Rising founder Eddy Morales, and more.