Books, Books, and Books: A Social Justice Reading List

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

Throughout my time working with the Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice, I’ve been exposed to amazing concepts that reflect on issues affecting our society.

I personally love researching for fun, but not everyone shares that love … or the same views I do. If you want to engage your mind, then I recommend the following books:

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Dean Verna Williams and Michelle Obama (image from Cincinnati.com)

Becoming by Michelle Obama

In her memoir, the former First Lady takes us on a journey to the White House. Mrs. Obama debunks many false rumors by sharing her life story. She elegantly describes every hurdle, obstacle, failure, mistake, and success she has encountered thus far. And, while describing her White House years, Mrs. Obama gives special thanks to our very own Interim Dean, Verna L. Williams. Check it out!

White Fragilty by Robin Diangelo img_9126

With everything going on in the United States, it’s important to try to get some understanding of race relations in our country. DiAngelo shares her experience as a white woman dealing with race relations, and the difficulties that arise when discussing those issues with other white people. She addresses the following questions:

  • Why is it difficult to discuss race with the white people?
  • Whose responsibility is it to help people fight racial biases and prejudices deeply embedded within them?
  • Why is colorblindness not the solution?
  • Why is exclaiming, “But, the Italians and Irish suffered too!” not enough when it comes to understanding race?

Her journey is truly inspiring and worth the read. Go, check it now!

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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Image from news.vcu.edu. 

Currently being made into a movie starring Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, and Jamie Fox, Mr. Stevenson’s memoir describes his journey as a young lawyer advocating for indigent people who have been charged and convicted of serious crimes. Much of the book revolves around Stevenson’s experience representing a death-row inmate, Walter McMillan. Through his telling of Mr. McMillan’s story and his legal representation of him, Stevenson highlights the importance and humanity of a strong attorney-client relationship. Stevenson debunks the ideas that lawyers shouldn’t care about their clients; rather, the best advocacy comes from the compassionate and empathetic attorneys. Check it out here.

Tomorrow Will Be Different by Sarah McBride

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Image from Ms. Magazine

Sarah McBride was one of the first transgender persons to present at national political convention. Her powerful memoir documents her journey from coming out to her family to becoming an activist. McBride’s journey highlights the love, loss, and powerful battles the LGBTQ community has faced over the years. Lastly, her journey reflects the important political and cultural milestones that continue to influence her life. Check it out here!

 

The Dream is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith by Sarah Azaransky

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Image from Amazon

Pauli Murray was an intersectional feminist before that now ubiquitous term even existed. She was also a famous poet, lawyer, and activist. In The Dream is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith, Sarah Azaransky documents Ms. Murray’s journey, which reflects not only the struggles with American Democracy, but also the strength and courage to change it. At only 130 pages, Azaranksy’s is a quick, uplifting read that will leave you inspired. Check it out here!

The Cuckoo’s Calling (and the rest of the Strike Series) by Robert Gailbraith

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In this mystery novel, Gailbraith (aka JK Rowling) introduces us to Coromoran Strike. He is an ex-military police officer who owns a private eye business. When a famous, young Black model dies at the peak of her career, Strike is hired by her adopted brother to solve the mystery of her death. While many believe it was a suicide, Strike, along with his assistant-turned-partner, Robin, believe otherwise. Gailbraith guides the reader through relatively unknown parts of London to solve the mystery. In addition, Gailbraith also uses the mystery novel genre to address larger race relation problems in London. The rest of the series likewise speaks to larger social justice issues that the city of London faces. The Strike Series is a must read!

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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Image from ebooksnow.org

Why should you read a book that is already a successful movie? The answer is simple: Mr. Kwan’s writing will transport you. Plus, the book gives you more of your favorite characters. The story centers around Rachel Chu, a Chinese-American woman, and Nicholas Young, a ridiculously handsome and rich Asian man, throughout their time in Singapore together. Kwan highlights not only cultural differences but also showcases problems that are universal with all families. Given the book’s (and movie’s) wild success, reading it might also prompt you to think about how few Asians and Asian Americans are featured in popular books, movies, and television, and whether Crazy Rich Asians reinforces or subverts stereotypes about Asians In any case, this book willmake you simultaneously laugh and cry. Plus, there are sequels! Crazy Rich Asians is a must read!

 

 

 

Author: Nikita_Srivastava

Nikita Srivastava is a 3L at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. She is a founding member of UC Law Women and Vice President of UC Law's Trial Advocacy Team.  Currently, she is a legal extern for the Indigent Defense Clinic at the Hamilton County Public Defender's Office.

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