Equity, masculinity, and post-capitalism: my 2018 learning agenda
Over the last couple years I’ve tried to be more intentional about documenting the resources I’ve found most helpful on my own journey, trying to understand what’s going on in the world and my role in it.
These are a few of my favorites from 2018: quotations, books, podcasts, speeches, documentaries, and articles/essays.
Newest intellectual crush: adrienne maree brown, no question. Reading her has felt like reading bell hooks: I find myself nodding in agreement, appreciating both the content of the idea and the beauty with which it’s expressed. So much resonance in her writing, so much wisdom in her words. Her Emergent Strategy was my favorite book of the year (my review here). This article on “gifting my attention” is a good introduction to her work, for those of you — like me — who prefer an essay to a whole book.
Favorite books: As a grudging nod to life with two kids and an ambitious professional agenda, I’ve essentially given up on reading full books, preferring instead to read essays, articles, reviews, etc. And what I do read these days is almost exclusively nonfiction, plus the occasional Jack Reacher (which I’ll read in an overnight binge).
In addition to Emergent Strategy — my runaway favorite for the year — I also loved Decolonizing Wealth, by Edgar Villanueva (my full review here). If you haven’t already, put it on your list: simultaneously hard-hitting and deeply sensitive.
Two books about effective movement building merit honorable mention for important contributions to the field:
- This is an Uprising, by the Engler brothers on the strategies and tactics of nonviolent resistance. My review here.
- And Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals by Jonathan Smucker. My review here.
Favorite quotations: Too many to count. But some that really resonated with me (again, not new in 2018, but struck me in the context of my year’s learning journey):
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” — James Baldwin
“Everything you’ve ever wanted lies on the other side of fear.” — unclear about that attribution, but it was shared via a conversation with Aaron Fairchild
“What you pay attention to, grows.” — unclear about that attribution (perhaps Deepak Chopra?), but I found it via adrienne maree brown (and the inverse: “What you resist, persists.” — Carl Jung)
“Healing people heal people.” — various, but I heard it from Edgar Villanueva, flipping the adage that “hurt people hurt people”
“Lead from the scar, not the wound.” — Nadia Bolz-Weber
“The arc of history doesn’t bend toward justice. It bends toward those who pull the hardest.” — Tarso Ramos
Favorite podcasts: Last year marked my first real introduction to podcasts, and they’ve since become one of my favorite ways to consume news/engage with ideas (my Stitcher app tells me I listened to around 100 hours this year). I love the interview format in particular: as I rarely have time to read whole books, I get huge value hearing a smart interviewer engage with authors about their ideas. In no particular order:
- Ezra Klein is among the best: his interviews since the 2016 election around identity politics, race, and class are consistently outstanding (see e.g. this fantastic post-election discussion with Heather McGhee).
- I also like Daniel Denvir at The Dig, who is great at bringing unconventional but vitally important voices to the table (e.g. this great episode with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on identity politics and neoliberalism).
- Scene on Radio again made a compelling bid for best series with MEN, a follow-up to last year’s outstanding Seeing White.
- I discovered recently this great podcast called “The One You Feed” after a Cherokee parable about two wolves.
- American Public Media’s Marketplace on “the sentence that helped set off the opioid crisis.”
- And of course pretty much everything Krista Tippett does for On Being is worth listening to (I’d highlight john powell on belonging, and Brene Brown on courage and vulnerability).
- Shankar Vedantam of NPR’s Hidden Brain did several outstanding episodes on gender. I’d listen in this order: the Edge of Gender, Man Up, and Be the Change.
- I’ve also added some parenting podcasts to my favorites: I like Casey O’Roarty’s Joyful Courage in particular (the episode on parenting boys really resonated with me).
As for favorite individual episodes:
- Nancy Fraser’s commentary on gender and capitalism for the Dig is a tour de force.
- The Brown sisters on #MeToo and Transformative Justice.
- Jen and I were lucky to see an amazing conversation between Brene Brown and DeRay McKesson in person; available on Pod Save the People here.
- This was also a banner year for critiques of philanthropy; Ezra’s interview with Anand Giridharadas is great.
- The One You Feed did a great episode on “masks and masculinity” featuring Lewis Howes.
Favorite speeches/TED talks/documentaries/movies:
- Tarana Burke at Facing Race was phenomenal: so much truth, with so much authenticity. Such a treat. Since that video may not be publicly available, her talk at TedWomen covered much of the same ground.
- This on-stage conversation (from 2015) of john powell and bell hooks is just exquisite.
- Ceasar McDowell’s TedX on Democracy from the Margins.
- More john powell: his speech at Bioneers.
- Valarie Kaur’s TedWomen talk on love in a time of rage.
- Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette (Netflix special, wherever that genre fits).
- The Chilean quasi-documentary “No” (from 2012).
- The Feminist in Cellblock Y (the best thing CNN has ever done, in my opinion).
- The If Project, a powerful documentary about incarcerated women here in Washington state.
Favorite essays/articles: As usual, this is the hardest. According to Pocket, I read the equivalent of 60 books this year through the app (a new record!). One boon of this current moment is so much good writing: people are stepping up their games, and there’s broad recognition that we need to listen to new voices… and social media is enabling those voices to get out. In no particular order:
- Peter Beinart — The New Authoritarians Are Waging War on Women
- Jeremy Adam Smith — Why are White Men Stockpiling Guns?
- Michael Kimmel — Almost all violent extremists share one thing: their gender
- Aya de Leon — Reconciling Rage and Compassion: the Unfolding #MeToo Moment for Junot Diaz
- Rana Dasgupta — The demise of the nation state
- Thomas Coombes — Hope, not fear: A new model for communicating human rights
- George Lakey — How to build a progressive movement in a polarized country
- Matthew Stewart — The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy
- Alice Cherry — Invisible Climate Wars, Part I: Climate Destruction as Gender Violence
- Evan Belosa — Loneliness, Radicalization, and the Fate of Democracy
- Jesse Myerson — White Anti-Racism Must Be Based in Solidarity, Not Altruism
- Melinda Wenner Moyer — Sexism Starts in Childhood
- Katrin Bennhold — One Legacy of Merkel? Angry East German Men Fueling the Far Right
- Joanna Levitt Cea & Jess Rimington — Creating Breakout Innovation
- Edgar Villanueva (interviewed by David Bornstein) — A Call to Modernize American Philanthropy
- Esther Perel — What Your Upbringing Says About Who You Are in Bed
- Courtney Martin — Stop Asking And Answering Other People’s Questions
- Karin Swann — After the Women’s March, What Do the Men Do Now?
- Eric Ward — The Evolution of Identity Politics: An Interview with Eric Ward
- Sarah Smarsh — Liberal Blind Spots Are Hiding the Truth About ‘Trump Country’
- Laurie Penny — The Queer Art of Failing Better
- Jason Hickel — The True Extent of Global Poverty and Hunger: Questioning the Good News Narrative of the Millennium Development Goals
- Jennifer Coates — I Am A Transwoman. I Am In The Closet. I Am Not Coming Out
- Stephen Reicher & S. Alexander Haslam — Trump’s Appeal: What Psychology Tells Us
- Peter Buffet — The Charitable-Industrial Complex
- Faith Salie — How to Raise a Sweet Son in an Era of Angry Men
- Soraya Chemaly — What Men Need to Know About Sexist Microaggressions
- Valerie Tarico — Political Narrative II: Why Some Progressives Are Tearing Each Other Apart
I’d love suggestions for outstanding writing/content that others found helpful in understanding our current moment and the way forward.