I have done a good job over the last decade at deprogramming from the previous four decades, with the essential ingredient being the injection of more diverse voices into my head, reading the stories of all of these amazing authors. I am very thankful for being able to decouple myself from the television and the Internet to make my way through these nourishing stories.
|Bunk by Kevin Young - This one laid an important foundation for me, demonstrating how so much of my reality is fabricated and a spectacle. It began my journey into questioning the stories I have been told, dismantling P.T. Barnum, but more importantly, The Education of Little Tree which was given to be as a child, and became such an important narrative in the back of my mind. Bunk cracked open for me just how everything we believe is well, Bunk.
|White Trash by Nancy Isenberg - White Trash began easing me into more awareness around white supremacy by showing me how having our chain yanked as poor people in this country is just as foundational as the stories we are told about the founding fathers. I grew up poor so the phrase "White Trash" resonated with me and opened up some doors, helping me understanding how white supremacy perpetually divides and conquers, keeping us separated and at each others throats.
|Educated by Tara Westover - This one hit so close to home, geographically, but also in the distance between our home live and venturing out into the world to obtain knowledge and awareness. My family didn't have the religious background, but everything else in this book resonated with me and sent chills up my spine. Her journey reflects what I strive for when it comes to seeking knowledge and awarness outside of where I grew up and the people I grew up with.
|Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi - I read this right after 400 Years of White Trash, and it strengthened the foundation when it came to my understanding of white supremacy. I understand now just how baked into the american experience and narrative it is, and there is no escaping from it, and as a white person you have to begin training yourself to see it. There was no turning back for me after reading this and I will forever be on the quest to see the gravity of white supremacy around me.
|Evicted by Matthew Desmond - Growing up poor this one stuck with me, and provide a powerful look into how people are just struggling to get by each day. I would never become a landlord after reading this book, not because I don't wan the hassles of being a property owner and landlord, but I just don't believe that we should be put in the place of deciding who should have a home or not. I am left believing that having a home is a right that should be afforded to anyone.
|Women, Race & Class by Angela Y. Davis - Alongside white supremacy I have a lot of work to do around unpacking patriarchy and better understanding the privilege I am afforded as a white male in this world. This was my introduction into the work of Angela Davis, and represents my continued work to understand how and why women move through the world as they do. Essential reading for any man looking to understand why they feel frustrated and unable to connect with the women in their lives.
|Angela Davis, An Autobiography by Angela Y. Davis - This helped me deprogram 40 years of news stories and discussions I heard growing up in Oregon about those black people in California. It pulled back the curtain on just how racist my elders were and how the nightly news and mainstream media just fueled the fire and hatred in their hearts. What a compelling and moving story, and a damming indictment of Reagan and the California system that I took as being liberal, but clearly is far from this reality.
|Loaded by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - I needed this unpacking of our second amendment, the police, and our gun loving beliefs that were embedded in me growing up in rural Oregon. As white in this country you are fed a powerful narrative around gun culture and the police, and revealing it as being foundational to white supremacy takes away all of the magic it held for me growing up, revealing it to be just another set of lies we tell ourselves to keep us fearful and people of color suppressed.
|The Warmth of Other Suns by Ijeoma Oluo - You just do not learn about why people of color migrated from the south in this country as a white person. There are some footnotes here and their in history books, but none of it got at the true reasons why, and the real stories of the people who migrated. I was aware that people fled the south to Chicago and New York, but I didn't understand the scope of it, and that it was how Los Angeles, Oakland, and Seattle were populated throughout the last century.
|Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer - This was a soothing pit stop in the indigenous ways of the country I live. This wasn't what I was given in history books growing up, or the bullshit stories I hear from white people around me. I found this book soothing to my soul and some of the indigenous medicine I think we all need to begin having a discussion about how we are going to heal this nation from one of the foundational sins we can't seem to actually discuss in any meaningful way.
|The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein - This book revealed to me why black and brown neighborhoods are the way they are, and made it so I can never live in a majority white city and neighborhood again in my life. White people are largely blind to why neighborhoods are the way they are, and how the lines have been drawn to ensure they stay that way. There was no moving back to rural or even metro Pacific Northwest for me after learning about how our world is carved up and why black and brown people don't live where I grew up.
|How the Word Is Passed by Clint Smith - A sobering look into the myths and stories we are handed down from our elders. How the Word is Passed reveals many heartbreaking stories of how we've crushed the souls of black people in the south, and how many white folks cling to dangerous stories of white supremacy as truths, when they are far from the truth. Yet another example for me of how powerful storytelling is and how dangerous this can be from generation to generation in this country.
|The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones - I was relieved to finally read this book after all the FUD from conservative circles. I get why they were so afraid of the narrative, because for me it was less about 1619, and all about today. The stories revealed that slavery and white supremacy is not just something from the long ago past, and connected it to contemporary reality. You can't argue that we live ina post-racial country int he United States after reading The 1619 Project, and it clearly scares the shit out of people.
|Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo - This book brought it all home for me, and revealed how the gravity surrounding white men in a patriarchal white supremacist reality is why we are so weak and fragile. She just nailed all the reasoning behind why us white men are the way we are and how we move through the world on the easiest game level without realizing it. I thought my uncontrollable anger was due to some past life trauma when it reality it is just because I am weak, mediocre, and never truly challenged.
|Pit Bull by Bronwen Dickey - This book unlocked a whole other dimension of white supremacy for me. the Pit Bull is so American in so many ways. It helped deprogram me from much of what I was bombarded with in the 1980s and 1990s when it came to not just dogs, but black and brown people, and the cities I was afraid of visiting. This story has showed me once again how powerful stories are in perpetuating hate and class divisions, and how much work we have to see the world as it really is.
|War Against All Puerto Ricans by Nelson A Denis - I knew Puerto Rico had a troubled past, but holy shit I had no idea that it was all so engineered by white powerful leaders in the United States. This was yet another story of how we literally bombed our own citizens, yet keep telling ourselves how Americans enjoy a certain freedom from persecution, when in reality we just don't tell the stories of how we bomb brown and black people in this country, but we just suck at being honest about doing it.
|Democracy's Data by Dan Bouk - This book was the closes I have come to a story of how I see APis shaping the world around us. It was a powerful narrative of how data is shaping our lives, and silently and not so silently defining who we are. Democracy's Data provided me with a single slice of America seen through the lense of the 1940 census, which reflects something that is playing out over and over in real-time when it comes to social media and the other digital applications we use online.
|The Cultural Logic of Computation by David Golumbia - David's book revealed just how boolean our world has become and how computing isn't giving us more choices, and is more often than not, just reducing everything down to two choices -- 0 and 1. I pulled back the curtain on why I feel so connected to programming and why I believe so long that computers and the Internet was going to save us. This book by David changed my life forever, and has helped be better cope with the world of technology I am immersed in each day.
|The Reactionary Mind by Corey Robin - I have been looking for this book my entire life. I was desperate to understand why the conservatives in my life were the way they were. I spent countless hours contemplating why they believed what they believed, and this book put my mind at ease, revealing that they are just reacting to the world around them. Now I have a framework for hanging anything I see conservative family and friends do, and I don't find myself going down the rabbit hole wondering why they are this way.
|Palo Alto by Malcolm Harris - This book unpacked my belief in why the "West is the Best", revealing to me that we are just as fucked up, if not more than the east coast. The story helped me better understand the power behind Silicon Valley, and once again how white supremacy is behind everything. The power, manipulation, and control that comes from this center of not just the west coast, but the world has been carefully crafted, and sadly many of us believe the polished stories over the dangerous reality beneath.
|Hella Town by Mitchell Schwarzer - I need this unpacking of Oakland. This amazing town was the focal point of a lot of negative storytelling and hatred I was exposed to as a child. I feared going to Oakland, where I now love going to Oakland. It showed me just how fearful everyone I grew up with was of this black and brown city. Hella Town increased my awareness of how the white powerful people drew the lines and decided where people lived, which is something that is still very evident on the ground in Oakland.
|Ancestor Trouble by Maud Newton - This book, along with Pit Bull revealed to me how many different dimensions there are to white supremacy and just how baked into our reality it is--so much we don't even see it. Genealogy and family history are just another way in which we provide a scaffolding for white supremacy and tell the stories we want to hear and omit the stories we don't want to hear, revealing how we are perpetually shoring up the racial edges of the fantasy we all have created and insist on living in.
|We Are the Land, A History of Native California by Damon B. Akins, William J. Bauer Jr. - After reading Hella Town I was keen on better understanding more about California, the state I was living in. This book shared the true history of the Spanish invasion of the West Coast, and painted a very different picture of the indigenous reality on the ground in the Southwest. It blew me away how the indigenous were described as disappearing when in reality we just disappeared them into the Spanish and Mexican melting pot that emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries.
|Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber - I needed this one. Just as I was beginning to hit the wall in my startup job, ironically my boss recommend the book teo me. Bullshit jobs just showed me (once again) what a hustle all of this is. It reminds me how I take work way to seriously and most of what I am doing is bullshit and won't mean a thing in a couple years, helping lighten my load and shift my work ethic when it comes to what I do each day on the job, and how I plan the future of my career.
|The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber, David Wengrow - This book blew my fucking mind. I am going to read again and again, and it makes me so very sad that we lost David Graeber. This book literally rewrites history, and provides a much less dark and a more matriarchal view of how we got here and what is possible. Again, this book just changed the foundation of my reality, and will have me questioning everything moving forward, from the history books I encounter, to how power operates in this world.
|Debt - The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber - David delivers again, and is another book I will read over and over until I have a fraction of the awareness David developed in his work. Debt is so key to how we are all controlled, and this book unpacks how the world leverages debt to enrich a handful and leave the rest of us struggling. For me, the under currents of debt reflect the same ways in which technology is being use dto trap, guide, and control us, but in a more digital sense, but using same approach.
|The Utopia of Rules by David Graeber - I just love David Graeber and how he sees the world. This book was timely for me as I began my immersion into the world of API governance which is shaped by "rules". This book really tempered my view of technology even further, and how there isn't any perfect utopian state of being on or offline, and it takes a lot of work to understand and work with the human condition, and how rules are mostly about how power works, and less about the rest of us.
|Capital, A Critique of Political Economy, Volume 1 by Karl Marx - It was important for me to read Capital. It was a slog. It was very hard to understand the scope, but the core of it was so pure and simple in my mind. I just kept thinking about how the lefties in my life would spout passages and concepts from the book, and now the righties are so dismissive and fearful of the book. I am confident that if the conservative people in my life actually read the book they would agree with everything said, because it really is about all of us.
It takes work to de-program oneself. If you are serious about understanding how the United States works, and why we are in the state we are in, I highly recommend working your way through these titles. These stories have saved my soul, given me enough momentum to keep going in this messed up world, and begin to be more optimistic about how I can live my life in the most meaningful way possible.