The best books about empowerment and hope

Who am I?

As with many people, my life has been full of twists and turns. I know what it means to be an outsider and to be cast aside as though my voice and presence doesn’t matter. But, with grit and determination, I battled systemic racism head-on, and with my good L.U.C.K (labor under correct knowledge), encouragement, and faith, I am thriving in an environment that was designed to be non-inclusive for People of Color. Currently, I am the only Black female professor in the 94-year history in the college where I am employed.


I wrote...

Resilience: Bravery in the Face of Racism, Corruption, and Privilege in the halls of Academia

By Marilyn K. Easter,

Book cover of Resilience: Bravery in the Face of Racism, Corruption, and Privilege in the halls of Academia

What is my book about?

Emma shines a light on the discriminatory practices deeply embedded in this country’s education system. She is bright, eager to learn and willing to work hard. But racial rebuffs from teachers and colleagues present her with a tidal wave of deterrents. This book takes readers through Emma’s past in a way that clearly lays out the obstacles young African American girls confront in a highly encoded education system—and it reveals the successful strategies Emma develops to surmount them. It also points out that these hurdles shouldn’t exist and brings hope that those who follow in Emma’s footsteps and learn from her can build on her experiences and change that system. 

The books I picked & why

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Beyond Retention: Cultivating Spaces of Equity, Justice, and Fairness for Women of Color in U.S. Higher Education

By Brenda L. H. Marina (editor), Sabrina N. Ross (editor),

Book cover of Beyond Retention: Cultivating Spaces of Equity, Justice, and Fairness for Women of Color in U.S. Higher Education

Why this book?

Beyond Retention is a non-fiction title that has the same narrative as my novel Resilience. Through various stories of lived experience, this title brings to light all the issues of race and gender inequality in higher institutions. What makes this book special is that it doesn't focus only on faculty but deals with administrators as well. Every woman who is interested in a career in academia should have and read Beyond Retention, as it offers ways through which one can thrive and not just survive in higher education.


Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Careers

By Patricia Mitchell, Giselle Parry, Virginia Fordice (illustrator)

Book cover of Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Careers

Why this book?

Ten Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Careers is a cutting-edge, accessible resource tool for every woman. It provides information on what is needed to compete in a "man's world." According to the statistics, women still earn 70% of each dollar compared to a man's income, regardless of their education. At a glance, Dr. Patricia Mitchell introduces the reader to common mistakes that could cost one's career, and she highlights issues that need to be examined before a woman plunges into a career or seeks to increase her position within a company. This book is about empowerment and it has helped me – and still does.  


Cracking the Wall 20 Years Later: Women in Higher Education Leadership

By Patricia Turner Mitchell (editor),

Book cover of Cracking the Wall 20 Years Later: Women in Higher Education Leadership

Why this book?

Cracking the Wall 20 Years Later is a special title for me, not only because of the significance of its content. I used the original edition in 1993 as a student at the University of San Francisco and then later as a professor at the College of Notre Dame. This book showcases the history of 14 women in academia and highlights the importance of the array of significant changes that need to be made today. What I love most about this book is that the same authors have updated their original chapters and their personal perspective of their experiences and career paths as leaders.  They speak from the heart as they share their transformational stories. They do not sugarcoat anything.  Even though there have been considerable changes in two decades, a great deal has remained the same for women. This is another essential title of empowerment, which lets women know they are not alone when confronting the inequalities in their careers.


Sarah

By Laura Albert aka JT LeRoy,

Book cover of Sarah

Why this book?

Sarah by Laura Albert aka JT LeRoy captivated my attention right from the start. The story crackles with originality even years after its release. The writing is so vivid that it engulfs the reader in the story. The characters are three dimensional, and the tale being told in the first person and present tense makes you empathize more with the main character. Having gone through a difficult upbringing, the story of Cherry Vanilla and their quest to find love and acceptance spoke to me. This is a title I would highly recommend, not only for the merit of the writing but also because its message continues to resonate to this day. Also check out the audiobook of Sarah, read splendidly by Winsome Brown.


My Monticello: Fiction

By Jocelyn Nicole Johnson,

Book cover of My Monticello: Fiction

Why this book?

Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s My Monticello is a title to be treasured. Through a series of masterfully woven stories, Johnson brings forth and highlights the deep-rooted racial inequalities in our country. Having my debut novel published later in life, I feel a special connection because Johnson’s recent release is about resilience and passion for the arts – and it proves that ageism has no place in the art world. This is another fiction title I would highly recommend. There’s a lesson to be learned from every character and every story penned in My Monticello.  


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