It’s safe to say that as far as #Wokebaes go Matt McGorry is no less than top five. He’s been vocal about racial inequality and women's rights for a while now and has firmly cemented himself as an ally to marginalized communities. What’s the secret to his wokeness? It could be all the books he’s reading. McGorry, when he’s not championing for causes like Black Lives Matter and starring in award-winning television shows like Orange is the New Black, reads a lot of progressive literature. For those who want to get on his level, these are some worthwhile reads.
1. Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year
This comprehensive look into the final year of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life connects the personal and the public in a way that is rarely taught in classrooms. King has become a symbol of the civil rights movement due to his extensive work and energetic speeches. But, until recently, not much was known about the man and his personal battles as he attempted to fight, peacefully, of course, to make a better America. McGorry posted about this read on his instagram back in October saying,
“I absolutely loved this book. The way it's written is incredibly captivating and really helped contextualize the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in ways that we are rarely taught about.”
2. Towards the "Other America": Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter
This compilation of notes and essays attempts to outline a solution to the divisiveness our nation is experiencing with regard to race while also pointing out ways to combine the shared values from a variety of communities to end the culture of white supremacy that has contributed to the lack of communication that we’ve been having around the issue of race. While emphasizing the opinions of white anti-racist leaders and lessons from smaller organizing groups from across the country, Crass provides an outline for the public to move toward a society where the lives of people of color have meaning.
3. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
There are countless cases that empirically prove that justice isn’t blind and that the legal system often fails those who don’t have the knowledge or the resources to navigate it successfully. This was the case for Bryan Stevenson who takes on the case of Walter MacMillian, a man sentenced to death for a crime he swears he is innocent of committing. As a young litigator with the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson was dedicated to defending those who would otherwise have gotten lost within the criminal justice system.
4. We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement
Feminism, like racism, is a necessary conversation that has been gained new momentum. But in taking center stage in the public conscious, the message seems to be lost. Zeisler argues that rather than being an identifier associated with social change, the term feminist has become a brand used as a marketing tool by companies and sold along with the images of big-name celebrities. It appears that feminism has become a commodity and Zeisler explores how we can return to the root of women’s equality.
5. The Guy's Guide to Feminism
There has never been a question that the success of feminism is, in a way, tied to the idea that men must understand it as well. The question is how? How do we get men to understand feminism and the ways in which it is important, not just for women but for themselves. Michael Kaufman and Michael Kimmel attempt to answer this question. Thoughtful, entertaining, and relevant, The Guy’s Guide to Feminism is a somewhat lighthearted perspective on feminism and why it’s men start having a stake in the movement.
6. Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
It’s no secret that as we move deeper and deeper into the digital age, the seemingly simplistic art of conversation seems lost. In a time where loneliness is perceived as a problem, and technology the solution, what are the rules of communication and how does this affect the way we interact with one another? The more new forms of technology influence the way we interact, what aspects of classic conversation are lost? Researcher Sherry Turkle explores the way technology is redefining the idea of connection in the 21st century.
7. Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority (City Lights Open Media)
It’s more obvious than ever that some members of white America have been operating under the notion that they are the cultural norm; and maybe somewhere at some point this was true. But as we’ve lived through two terms with a black man in the white house and a a changing popular culture that is beginning to reflect ALL aspects of the American narrative there is naturally some pushback. At the time this book was published, it was the Tea Party’s narrative of “take our country back”. However, it’s still relevant in the era of Trump and his “male America great again” presidential campaign. As a new minority begins to take shape, Time Wise unashamedly points put everything wrong with the notion that America ever really belonged to white America.
8. My Life on the Road
Undoubtedly a feminist icon, Gloria Steinem has cemented herself as an important figure within the activism and journalism community. But how she got to that point is a different story altogether. When she learned that being grown up didn’t mean settling down it opened her up to a lifetime of possibilities and new adventures that would lead her down an unusual and riveting path. Steinem makes a compelling case for the necessity of travel and the way in which it impacts the stories we are able to tell.
9. Between the World and Me
Just as society is changing, so is the way we look at history and the events that got us to where we are. Coates explores the notion of race that built the world as we know it and further explains the ramifications of this construct on the black bodies that try to navigate it. In this intimate recollection from father to son, Coates sheds light on the way in which the American Empire used race to exploit an entire group of people for centuries and the impact we are still living with.
10. The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love
Like Gloria Steinem, Bell Hooks has a long history advocating for women's equality. Her writing has frequently focused on the intersectionality of race, gender and capitalism. With this book, hooks addresses masculinity by debunking myths about things that have long been considered unmasculine. She asserts that by relinquishing the long-held ideas of what it is that makes a man, the modern day man can, in fact, live a more fulfilled life.
11. Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison
Shaka Senghor had what many considered a good start to life. He grew up in a nice neighborhood with both parents in the house, and ambitions of pursuing a medical career. At the age of 11, that all changed. When his parent’s marriage began to unravel, and the violence in his home started to escalate, he ran away. By 19, he was in jail for murder after spending years on the street dealing drugs. But he made the most of his time in prison. In this book, Senghor details the tools he used to turn his life around and eventually give back to young people in danger of following in his footsteps.
12. She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman
For a long time, it used to be all about him in the bedroom. Later, women realized that it isn’t fair for men to have all the fun. Unfortunately, not every guy got the memo. Ian Kerner has some tips to help everyone out. A healthy mix of philosophy and humor, Kerner presents this guide to making sure your woman stays satisfied.
13. The New Jim Crow
When Matt McGorry got his hands on this page-turner, he had this to say,
"It gives an incredible look at how the US criminal justice system fails and discriminates against people of color and specifically black folks. I'm embarrassed that I didn't come across the information in this book sooner. But that's white privilege for ya. I was never directly affected If you have any interest in understanding the complexities of systemic racism in America, this is a must read."
That pretty much sums up The New Jim Crow. Michelle Alexander managed to spark a conversation for years to come with her in-depth examination of the criminal justice system and many, including McGorry have taken notice.
In the wake of what has been nothing short of a tiring and divisive election cycle, it's time we start reevaluating everything we thought we knew about how the world works. Gone are the days when an issue not effecting you meant you could ignore it. The best way to get enlightened is a good education, and these reads make for one amazing curriculum.