What are you reading and watching

Before we start if you’re not busy next Wednesday come join me for lunch at the Launch luncheon. I’m speaking at this fundraiser and super excited to support this great organization. Launch provides child care and preschool services and they do it with a spirit of inclusiveness and relationship building. See you at lunch.

harukiEarlier this week a colleague of color, who is interested in learning more about race, asked if I knew of any good textbooks or places to go to learn about race. I sort of chuckled, hopefully it was only audible in my head although I’ve been told I don’t have a poker face, and I said “well, you can’t really read just one book, it is more about diversifying media and perspectives overall.” To understand race and what it means to people is to remember there are multiple truths to every story. Diversifying what we read or the media we take in is one way to learn about race.

I have two focus areas for myself this year: first is to practice more gratitude, and the second to be aware of how much energy I put into English-only speaking spaces. This year I’m aiming to try to take in more media from non-English sources (translations and interpretations count). As a monolingual English speaker and reader I know I have a limited view of the world because my world is filtered through an English only lens. As an example, there are some cultural nuances I will never catch on to by only understanding English. Mindy, my colleague, is fluent in English and Cantonese. She recently explored some of the roots of Cantonese language and said there are many words in Cantonese that have literal translations. Such as the word troublemaker, 搞屎棍 (gaau si gwan), literally translates into “poop stirring stick.” I’ll never look at a toilet brush the same way, or use that word in the same way again.

My personal challenge this year is to read more books and articles from people of color, especially books and media from non-English speakers. If you have any suggestions of good books, movies, or online videos from non-English perspectives please let me know, please note I will need translated or subtitles since I’m not ambitious enough to learn another language right now.

Because I couldn’t think quickly enough when my colleague asked what reading and media I recommend, I’ll answer the question here. This is my recommended list of reading and media.

News and Blogs

  • South Seattle Emerald: Marilee Jolin, the Executive Director of the South Seattle Emerald, recently visited with an advocacy and policy cohort I help to facilitate. She shared the Emerald’s vision for diversifying news. The Emerald is a great South Seattle resource and they prioritize running stories from South Seattle residents, which includes a lot of people of color. I enjoy their coverage and seeing so many different perspectives shared. If you aren’t in Seattle purposefully seek out your city’s version of the Emerald
  • Nonprofit With Balls: We have to give a shout out to our friend Vu Le with nonprofitwithballs.com. While Vu’s focus is on nonprofits he often interweaves communities of color perspectives into his posts.

Facebook and Twitter Newsfeeds

I get a lot of my news from online resources, especially social media because of this I try to make sure I am following a wide and deep range of people and organization’s on social media to get different perspectives. Here is my short list of feeds I find thought provoking:

  • Equity Matters– Heidi does a great job of posting articles and writing short explainations of why they matter. She also does the extra work of looking for articles by authors of color to promote different narratives versus just mainstream media.
  • The Atlantic – while this is a mainstream liberal news organization, I enjoy their diverse topics and focus on race. Especially when they have writers of color featured, such as Ta Nahesi Coates
  • Colorlines
  • There are many others, too many to list.


Here is a list of books I’ve read and recommend, most of them by authors of color. There are quite a few kids books on the list since I read to my kids and well I needed to put kids books otherwise the list would be sparse since I don’t read a lot of IMG_20170306_200343adult books these days.

  • The Underground by Colson Whitehead
  • When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson
  • March by John Lewis
  • Thunder Boy by Sherman Alexie
  • Peach Girl by Raymond Nakamura
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (I’m on page 7 and so far I like it, yup recommending a book after only 7 pages, feel free to judge)
  • Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh
  • Visas for Life by Yukiko Sugihara
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • At the Same Moment Around the World by Clotilde Perrin

To give you an idea about how important it is to seek out diverse check out this infographic by publisher Lee & Low. If we pickup books that are easy we default to reading books by white authors. More interesting infographics by Lee & Low here.

I’m looking forward to hearing what you would suggest as ways to diversify media. Let me know what you recommend and I’ll put it on my list of things to read, watch, or listen to.

Posted by Erin