Archive

Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

January 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Baratunde Thurston wrote a really good book. You should read it. He’s funny and smart.

When people began to herald the election of Barack Obama as proof that we were living in a post-racial society I finally put together that I was born only 16 years removed from the assassination of MLK and the civil rights movement. That’s not a lot of time.

My dad has this great game where he asks older people all sorts of things, and nothing is off-limits because he asks as if he were an anthropologist – wanting to understand and not judge. Taking my dad’s lead I was bold in my teen years asking people who were old enough to effect change in the 60s what their contribution towards the civil rights movement was. I quit asking that question because the response is often so disappointing.

My response to the disappointment has been to constantly review my actions and my motives so that when guys my age twenty years from now ask me what I was doing during X event I can be proud of the contribution I made to furthering justice.

Thurston’s book articulates that there are many ways to be black. The best takeaway from the book is that it is white people’s job to end racism:

“I’ve wanted to hold an actually meaningful ceremony making the destruction of racism the official responsibility of white people. It would be like passing off the Olympic torch.” Thurston, Baratunde (2012-01-31). How to Be Black (pp. 215-216). Harper Paperbacks. Kindle Edition.

 

The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida

September 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Book: The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida

Rating: Amazing

Lesson Learned: creativity is key

Florida is an academic and the book is an academic treatise on creativity, the way it works and how it is attracted. I still feel that anyone has the ability to be creative from a janitor to CEO. Therefore, I think it is possible to remake cities into bastions of creativity by changing the citizens and not outsourcing creativity to come in. I want to believe creativity is something everyone has inside of them. For some people it was beaten out due to lack of encouragement or even their own laziness.

Great book and worth reading.

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can be Done About It by Paul Collier

August 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Book: The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can be Done About It by Paul Collier

Rating: Good

Lesson Learned: Work it out

There are lots of reasons that plunge countries into financial collapse. Collier is an academic, but writes for everyone. I imagine he is a hoot in class. I had a hard time getting through it all, but it is worth a read.

Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives Compiled and Edited by Peter Orner

August 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Book: Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives Compiled and Edited by Peter Orner

Rating: Great

Lesson Learned: Who deserves what?

I was born in America. It had nothing to do with me, my parents; it was purely by the sovereignty of God. This book tells stories of people who weren’t born in America. They come to work in our kitchens, our hotels, and our fields always in fear of being caught and deported. The system is broken and their stories make me sick to think there are those who want to build a fence.

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz

August 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Book: The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz

Rating: Good

Lesson Learned: Sustainable

Novogratz started the Acumen fund, the worlds leading NGO devoted to sustainable economic development for people in the developing world. The book follows how she got where she is and the impact she is making. You need to check out the Acumen Fund website. They are doing amazing things.

We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Phillip Gourevitch

August 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Book: We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Phillip Gourevitch

Rating: Amazing and Heart breaking

Lesson Learned: Power of written word

I read this in college and was never the same. This is about the genocide in Rwanda from the 90s and is a hard book to read or to put down. You are left shocked, horrified and ready to act. This is not a book you should read if you are happy with your life just the way it is. I cannot imagine someone reading this and not being mobilized to act on a global scale. I am still trying to process this book four years later and figuring out how I am going to contribute to sustainable peace through economic development around the world.

In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong by Amin Maalouf

August 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Book: In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong by Amin Maalouf

Rating: Great

Lesson Learned: Perception of Community

“If men of all countries, of all conditions and faiths can so easily be transformed into butchers, if fanatics of all kinds manage so easily to pass themselves off as defenders of identity, it’s because the ‘tribal’ concept of identity still prevalent all over the world facilitates such a distortion. It’s a concept inherited from the conflicts of the past, and many of us would reject it if we examined it more closely. But we cling to it through habit, from lack of imagination of resignation, thus inadvertently contributing to the tragedies by which, tomorrow, we shall be genuinely shocked.” (Page 29) Why haven’t you read this book yet?