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MAEC’s Reads: July 2021

Summer, spring, winter, fall – we love to read all year round! When we’re not hard at work with MAEC, you can find us with our noses in books to learn how to become the best equity leaders and organizers we can be. We will post new lists over time, and we welcome your suggestions. What should our staff be reading? Tell us about it on Twitter @MAEC4Ed.

1. African American Women in Executive Leadership, by Carol Gant (upcoming)
Recommended by Carol Gant

The shortage of African American women in senior leadership is prevalent beyond the corporate ranks. This qualitative study will investigate the experiences of African American women in senior leadership positions and highlight the barriers that African American women endure while seeking senior leadership positions. The primary purpose of this research will be to understand the experiences and perceptions of African American women who currently hold, have held, or aspire to hold a senior leadership position in the United States, regardless of sector. The study will examine their success strategies, along with the challenges and lessons learned. 

2. Becoming, by Michelle Obama
Recommended by Earnest Offley
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her–from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it–in her own words and on her own terms. 

3. The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, by Khalil Gilbran Muhamma
Recommended by Nyla Bell

How did we come to think of race as synonymous with crime? A brilliant and deeply disturbing biography of the idea of black criminality in the making of modern urban America, The Condemnation of Blackness reveals the influence this pernicious myth, rooted in crime statistics, has had on our society and our sense of self. Black crime statistics have shaped debates about everything from public education to policing to presidential elections, fueling racism and justifying inequality. 

4. Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy, by Gholdy Muhammad
Recommended by Jenny Portillo

In Cultivating Genius, Dr. Gholdy E. Muhammad presents a four-layered equity framework—one that is grounded in history and restores excellence in literacy education. Muhammad provides probing, self-reflective questions for teachers, leaders, and teacher educators as well as sample culturally and historically responsive sample plans and text sets across grades and content areas. In this book, Muhammad presents practical approaches to cultivate the genius in students and within teachers.

5. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, by Nelson Mandela
Recommended by Nikevia Thomas

Nelson Mandela was one of the great moral and political leaders of his time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Long Walk to Freedom is his moving and exhilarating autobiography, destined to take its place among the finest memoirs of history’s greatest figures.

6. Millions, Billions, Zillions: Defending Yourself in a World of Too Many Numbers, by Brian Kernighan
Recommended by Dannele Ferreras
In this short, accessible, enlightening, and entertaining book, Brian Kernighan teaches anyone–even diehard math-phobes–how to demystify the numbers that assault us every day. Giving you the simple tools you need to avoid being fooled by dubious numbers, Millions, Billions, Zillions is an essential survival guide for a world drowning in big–and often bad–data.

7. The Other Black Girl, by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Recommended by Marianna Stepniak

The Other Black Girl is an electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing. A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.

8. Reading, Writing, and Racism: Disrupting Whiteness in Teacher Education and in the Classroom, by Bree Picower
Recommended by Karmen Rouland

When racist curriculum “goes viral” on social media, it is typically dismissed as an isolated incident from a “bad” teacher. Educator Bree Picower, however, holds that racist curriculum isn’t an anomaly. It’s a systemic problem that reflects how Whiteness is embedded and reproduced in education. In Reading, Writing, and Racism, Picower argues that White teachers must reframe their understanding about race in order to advance racial justice and that this must begin in teacher education programs.

9. Street Data: A Next-Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation, by Shane Safir & Jamila Dugan
Recommended by Susan Shaffer

Education can be transformed if we eradicate our fixation on big data like standardized test scores as the supreme measure of equity and learning. Instead of the focus being on “fixing” and “filling” academic gaps, we must envision and rebuild the system from the student up―with classrooms, schools and systems built around students’ brilliance, cultural wealth, and intellectual potential. Street data reminds us that what is measurable is not the same as what is valuable and that data can be humanizing, liberatory and healing.  

10. Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir, by Rebecca Carroll
Recommended by Kasia Razynska

Rebecca Carroll grew up the only black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population growth, her early childhood was loving and idyllic–and yet she couldn’t articulate the deep sense of isolation she increasingly felt as she grew older. Intimate and illuminating, Surviving the White Gaze is a timely examination of racism and racial identity in America today, and an extraordinarily moving portrait of resilience.

11. Taberna y otros lugares, by Roque Dalton
Recommended by Hugo Najera

Salvadoran revolutionary poet Roque Dalton reflects on his time in Prague, where he witnessed the popular uprising and the Soviet invasion in 1968. This book won the Casa de las Américas Literary Award and established Dalton among the best young poets in Latin America. Published by the Roque Dalton Publishing Project.

The MAEC blog is designed to engage hearts and minds of school and district leaders across the country to engage in issues that you have identified as being essential in education. Opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.

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