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What to read about cities, opportunity and equity in 2020

General Foundation News

As a new year — and decade — kicks off, Kresge’s staff members compiled this list of books to read in 2020. These books are those our staff found moving, thought-provoking, and important in recent years and that have relevance for the year ahead. As you look for a few good titles to stretch your viewpoint or introduce you to a new area of study altogether, here’s a list that spans our work in cities, with a special emphasis on books tht touch our newest foundational value of equity. Happy reading in 2020!

How To Be An Antiracist

How to be an Antiracist | By Ibram X. Kendi | 2019 | Published by Penguin Random House

In his memoir, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science — including the story of his own awakening to antiracism — bringing it all together in a cogent, accessible form.

Race For Profit

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Home Ownership By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor | 2019 | UNC Press

Chera says, “I’m planning to read this book because it aligns with my desire to be an antiracist. In doing so, I’m committed to an ongoing learning journey about the policies and practices that got us to the racial disparities that are real today.”

How To Kill A City

How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and The Fight for The Neighborhood | By Peter Moskowitz | 2017 | Bold Type Books

Peter Moskowitz’s How to Kill a City takes readers from the kitchen tables of hurting families who can no longer afford their homes to the corporate boardrooms and political backrooms where destructive housing policies are devised. Along the way, Moskowitz uncovers the massive, systemic forces behind gentrification in New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco, and New York.

White Fragility

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism | By Robin DiAngelo | 2018 | Beacon Press

The New York Times best-selling book explores the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.

Measure What Matters

Measure What Matters – OKRs: The Simple Idea That Drives 10x Growth | By John Doerr | 2018 | Penguin

Legendary venture capitalist John Doerr reveals how the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) has helped tech giants from Intel to Google achieve explosive growth — and how it can help any organization thrive.

Once In A Great City

Once in a Great City – A Detroit Story | By David Maraniss | 2015 | Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Once in a Great City shows that the shadows of collapse were evident even in Detroit long before its infamous bankruptcy.

How The Other Half Banks

How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy | By Mehrsa Baradaran | 2015 | Harvard University Press

Baradaran’s first book explores the current state of banking, uncovering how “The United States has two separate banking systems today one serving the well-to-do and another exploiting everyone else.”

The Color of Money

The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap | By Mehrsa Baradaran | 2017 | Belknap Press

“Our team read this together in 2019 and found it enlightening (and enraging) around the history of our banking system and how racism has shaped it since Reconstruction.”

The Color Of Law

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America | By Richard Rothstein | 2017 | Liveright

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein illustrates the ways that racialized politics, policies, and processes created institutional racism in American cities. It is a fascinating read for anyone interested in cities and what invisible systems shape the built environments we live in today. Rothstein expertly takes the reader through the history of racialized policies in American cities, and how the challenges we face today took decades in the making.

AI Superpowers

AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order | By Kai-Fu Lee | 2018 | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Rob says, “The dominance of the U.S. and China in artificial intelligence fuels massive social problems in the world, as they both become more powerful.” This book explains.

The Years That Matter Most

The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us | By Paul Tough | 2019 | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

“It tells the stories of students trying to find their way, with hope, joy, and frustration, through the application process and into college. Drawing on new research, the book reveals how the higher ed landscape has shifted and exposes the hidden truths of how the system works and whom it works for.

The Merit Myth

The Merit Myth: How Our Colleges Favor the Rich and Divide America | By Anthony P. Carnevale, Peter Schmidt and Jeff Strohl | 2020 | The New Press

An eye-opening and timely look at how colleges drive the very inequalities they are meant to remedy, complete with a call—and a vision—for change. Colleges fiercely defend America’s higher ed system, arguing that it rewards bright kids who have worked hard. But it doesn’t actually work this way. As the recent bribery scandal demonstrates, social inequalities and colleges’ pursuit of wealth and prestige stack the deck in favor of the children of privilege.

Life After Carbon

Life After Carbon: The Next Global Transformation of Cities | By Peter Plastrik and John Cleveland | 2018 | Island Press

Urban sustainability consultants Plastrik and Cleveland assemble a global pattern of urban reinvention from the stories of 25 “innovation lab” cities across the globe—from Copenhagen to Melbourne. It is a city in which government, business, and community leaders take to heart the challenge of climate change and converge on the radical changes that are necessary.

Energy Democracy

Energy Democracy: Advancing Equity in Clean Energy Solutions | Edited by Denise Fairchild and Al Weinrub | 2017 | Island Press

This volume brings together a variety of racial, cultural, and generational perspectives on the energy democracy movement. The diverse contributions “show what an alternative, democratized energy future can look like, and will inspire others to take up the struggle to build the energy democracy movement.”

Washington Black

Washington Black | By Esi Edugyan | 2018 | Knopf Publishing Group

A New York Times notable book from 2018. From the sultry cane fields of the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, Washington Black tells a story of friendship and betrayal, love and redemption, of a world destroyed and made whole again — and asks the question, what is true freedom?

There There

There There | By Tommy Orange | 2018 | Knopf

Another one of the New York Time’s 10 best books of the year (for 2018). This praised novel features interconnected stories about urban Native Americans living in Oakland, California.

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents  | By Lindsay C. Gibson | 2015 | New Harbinger Publications

Lindsay Gibson, a clinical psychologist specializing in adult children of emotionally immature parents, looks at how to overcome the pain caused by difficult parents and how to build a better life by developing emotional intelligence and creating deeper, more meaningful relationships with yourself and others.

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