The best books for advocates of economic justice who want more than a recounting of history

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an artist, activist, and social entrepreneur. Latino bilingüe and history nerd. I’m the Founder of Resilient Coders, a free and stipended nonprofit coding bootcamp that trains people of color for careers as software engineers. I built that organization for the same reason I write: I care about the economic wellness of Black and Latinx people. I want my neighbors to have the purchasing power to keep my local bodega open. They carry my coffee. Whole Foods doesn’t.


I wrote...

What We Build with Power: The Fight for Economic Justice in Tech

By David Delmar Sentíes,

Book cover of What We Build with Power: The Fight for Economic Justice in Tech

What is my book about?

What We Build with Power is an urgent call for organizing shared strategies in order to disrupt the tech industry and move toward a more economically inclusive and equitable workforce.

Economic disparities between White, Black, and Latinx workers persist. Activist and organizer David Delmar Sentíes argues that tech is in a position to move beyond empty platitudes and toward an organized workforce that values the economic well-being of Black and Latinx communities. Delmar Sentíes uses his firsthand experience as the founder of Resilient Coders—a free and stipended nonprofit coding bootcamp that trains people of color from low-income communities for careers as software engineers—to highlight how we must identify and dismantle the intentional systemic barriers in tech that are precluding nonwhite people from participating in their cities’ prosperity.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice

David Delmar Sentíes Why did I love this book?

We don’t learn African American history in this country, nor do we learn anything about our economic history. (Imagine how much better we’d understand our country if we did.)

This book presents cooperatives as the act of resistance that they in fact are, and offers a strong rebuke to the argument that cooperatives are a European phenomenon too far removed from our own national experience to take root here. Not only has cooperative thought taken root here, those roots have sprouted whole forests. 

For those of us struggling to find in our history economic models from which we can build a more equitable and inclusive future, this book is a must.  

By Jessica Gordon Nembhard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Collective Courage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…


Book cover of The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era

David Delmar Sentíes Why did I love this book?

You’d be forgiven for believing that there’s a Left, a Right, and that we fishtail between the two with every election cycle.

It’s easy to equate the word “neoliberal” with names like Reagan and Thatcher, but that doesn’t mean that neoliberals are conservatives. Find out why Milton Friedman himself hated being called a “conservative.”

And why the neoliberal order that most of us grew up with has largely ebbed by 2020. We’re in a new era. 

By Gary Gerstle,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Best Books of 2022: Financial Times Best Non-Fiction Books of 2022: De Tijd Shortlisted for Financial Times Best Business Book of the Year

The most sweeping account of how neoliberalism came to dominate American politics for nearly a half century before crashing against the forces of Trumpism on the right and a new progressivism on the left.

The epochal shift toward neoliberalism-a web of related policies that, broadly speaking, reduced the footprint of government in society and reassigned economic power to private market forces-that began in the United States and Great Britain in the late 1970s fundamentally changed the world.…


Book cover of Pedagogy of the Oppressed

David Delmar Sentíes Why did I love this book?

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire makes claims so bold, and so revolutionary, that the book was banned in much of the Global South during the era of dictatorships in the 70s.

One of the central ideas was this: The oppressed are as capable and as intelligent as their oppressors. They need not be treated as requiring “help” or “guidance,” which are dynamics that can lend themselves to inequitable power constructs.

This worldview, in which one group of people is needed in order to “save” another group of people, is the intellectual foundation from which we’ve built systems of oppression throughout history. If one person’s liberation is dependent on another person’s choice, they can never be equals.

This is the book upon which we built Resilient Coders. 

By Paulo Freire,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pedagogy of the Oppressed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in Portuguese in 1968, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was translated and published in English in 1970. Paulo Freire's work has helped to empower countless people throughout the world and has taken on special urgency in the United States and Western Europe, where the creation of a permanent underclass among the underprivileged and minorities in cities and urban centers is ongoing. This 50th anniversary edition includes an updated introduction by Donaldo Macedo, a new afterword by Ira Shor and interviews with Marina Aparicio Barberan, Noam Chomsky, Ramon Flecha, Gustavo Fischman, Ronald David Glass, Valerie Kinloch, Peter Mayo, Peter McLaren…


Book cover of The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together

David Delmar Sentíes Why did I love this book?

When swimming pools were desegregated, White people walked away from them.

When college became accessible to Black people, White people voted to slash public funding. When the party of Kennedy and Johnson were believed to be upending traditional racial hierarchies rather than upholding them, White Southerners abandoned it.

Race plays a critical role in our economic history, and still does today.

This book is both data and storytelling. Required reading. 

By Heather McGhee,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Sum of Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD • One of today’s most insightful and influential thinkers offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone—not just for people of color.

WINNER OF THE PORCHLIGHT BUSINESS BOOK AWARD • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Time, The Washington Post, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ms. magazine, BookRiot, Library Journal

“This is the book I’ve been waiting for.”—Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist

Look for…


Book cover of This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom

David Delmar Sentíes Why did I love this book?

This is the philosophical bedrock of the modern struggle for economic justice. It’s a cornerstone of my own book, actually.

“To sustain your existential identity,” writes Haaglund, “is to lead your life in light of what you value.”

Freedom is the ability to sustain that existential identity. It means having more time than that which you need to survive. The more time you have to live your life in light of what you value, the freer you are.

A society in which an entire class of people can spend their entire lifetimes working and remain poor is not a free society.

And yes, it’s a philosophy book, but it’s clear and accessible. 

By Martin Hagglund,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the René Wellek Prize

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Guardian, The Millions, and The Sydney Morning Herald

This Life offers a profoundly inspiring basis for transforming our lives, demonstrating that our commitment to freedom and democracy should lead us beyond both religion and capitalism. Philosopher Martin Hägglund argues that we need to cultivate not a religious faith in eternity but a secular faith devoted to our finite life together. He shows that all spiritual questions of freedom are inseparable from economic and material conditions: what matters is how we treat one another in this…


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A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

Book cover of A Beggar's Bargain

Jan Sikes Author Of The Edge of Too Late

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Lover of Music Astral Traveler Tarot Reader Grandmother

Jan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Historical Fiction Post WW2.

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father’s dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.
Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time—a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an alternative proposition—marry his unwanted daughter, Sara Beth, in exchange for a two-year extension. Out of options, money, and time, Layken agrees to the bargain.

Now, he has two years to make a living off the land while he shares his life with a stranger. If he fails at either, he’ll lose it all.

A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

What is this book about?

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father's dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.

Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time-a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an…


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