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Inspired BlogThe Red Ventures D&I Reading List 2.0

One year ago, we published our original Red Ventures D&I Reading List — but a lot has happened since then. In the weeks following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, we took a hard look at our culture, and developed a detailed plan for supporting diversity and inclusion within our own community. 

We’re embarking on a sustainable, long-term journey to drive meaningful change, and a core part of that journey includes providing educational opportunities for our leadership and employees — the more we learn, the more we grow. If you’re looking for ways to boost your own D&I education, check out these reading (and listening and watching) recommendations from a few of our D&I champions across the country. 

Kendra Smith, Editorial Director & Member of Healthline’s BIPOC and Allies Employee Resource Group

Recommendation: I would say the “1619 Project” podcast first, but I’m pretty sure everyone has already said that one. Outside of that, I got a lot out of the “Hidden Brain” podcast.

Description: Shankar Vedantam, an award-winning journalist who has focused on social science for much of his career, uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.

Why I Recommend It: Specifically, I’d recommend these episodes: June 29, 2020 | The Founding Contradiction: Thomas Jefferson’s Stance On Slavery’ is incredibly illuminating about why the legacy of slavery is inescapable in the US today. ‘July 6, 2020 | The Night That Lasted A Lifetime: How Psychology Was Misused In Teen’s Murder Case’ and ‘July 20, 2020 | Culture Wars And The Untold Story Of Lyndie B. Hawkins’ are also really helpful in learning all the layers embedded.

Khemari Cook, Director of Education and Inclusion on the RV Diversity & Inclusion Team

Recommendation: “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois

Description: A  collection of essays that describe being Black in America in 1903.

Why I Recommend It: This is the first book that defined the duality I’ve experienced my whole life. It unpacks what it means to be black and exist in a predominately white world – and at that time, a world in which black humanity was a radical idea. It’s a poetic yet informative precursor to what we know today as ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Even after 117 years, it’s still relevant. Overall it’s a great way to understand the history of race relations in America and lay the foundation for drawing parallels to today.

Sarah Soule, President & Executive Sponsor of RV’s Women’s Employee Resource Group

Recommendation: “Going It Alone” by Rahawa Haile

Description: This article is a personal story of a Black woman who hiked the Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine on her own. She shares personal anecdotes from the experience that are eye-opening and highlight the ongoing racism that exists in our country. 

Why I Recommend It: Hiking is something that I love and recently introduced to my kids. I never think twice about safety or who I might encounter on the trails and I realize I take that for granted. This article was eye-opening because it highlights how everyday experiences — even in the great outdoors, which should be a safe space for everyone to enjoy — can be so drastically different for people of color. For me it was a reminder of what my Black colleagues experience when they venture out in a bandana (or Buff), travel through rural southern America, or simply just try to go for a hike.

Richard Jordan, Director & Chair of RV’s LGBTQIA Employee Resource Group

Recommendation: Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking: A Cookbook” by Toni Tipton-Martin

Description: “Jubilee” (a James Beard Award-winning cookbook) paints a picture of African-American culture through one of the most core aspects of any cultural makeup — cuisine. 

Why I Recommend It: As a southern white man, this cookbook showed me how many African American meals, dishes and staples existed at the core of my family traditions. I love this book because it ties history to ingredients, tells you where recipes derived from and the basic techniques used throughout  generations.

This is a resource for someone who wants to find ways to support D&I within their everyday actions. I love cooking and entertaining and for a multitude of reasons. It’s such an intimate and personal process; sharing a handmade, from-scratch meal is an artform, and hosting friends (especially in these times) should be a curated and special experience. By using a diverse set of recipes created by diverse chefs, it keeps my process interesting, elevates my skills through new exposure, and creates conversation between friends. It’s fun yet educational, especially if they have never experienced a particular genre of food.

I recommend this book because it ties history to food, but doesn’t beat you over the head with it. I also recommend this if you’re like me and have been looking for ways to add underrepresented chefs/cooks to your kitchen shelves and bring different cultures into your everyday life. 

Other diverse culinary authors I’m obsessed with: Samin Nosrat, Bryant Terry, Daphne Mah

Diverse food Instagrams I recommend: @HelloLisaLin, @Lucas.sin, @Sohlae, @Andybaraghani 

Priya Balakrishnan, Recruiting Coordinator & Ambassador for RV’s Diversity-Focused Employee Resource Group

Recommendation: What is a microaggression? 14 things people think are fine to say at work — but are actually racist, sexist, or offensive” by Marguerite Ward and Rachel Premack

Description: This article walks through microaggressions and talks through ways we can avoid unintentionally making those around us uncomfortable with our words. 

Why I Recommend It: Personally, I have experienced microaggressions throughout my life and they have definitely had an impact on me. Sayings like “where are you actually from,” or “your name is hard to pronounce” are ones that I’ve heard numerous times. It’s important to understand that the words we say can have an effect on others – regardless of whether we think they are offensive or not. We should all continue to educate ourselves on points like these, so that we can foster an inclusive and comfortable environment for ourselves and those around us.

Sam Worobec, VP of Learning & Development

Recommendation: Rachel Cargle’s “The Great Unlearn” & “#DoTheWork Challenge” 

Description: As Rachel puts it, “I hope that through my course your heart and mind will unlearn, expand, grapple, dissect, engage, and build a critical awareness that will change the way you move through the world as an ally.” 

Why I Recommend It: There are so many resources out there, it can be difficult to know where to start or feel like you’re making progress. Rachel has laid out a 30-day curriculum to really understand systemic racism in America, while utilizing posts on Instagram to teach short lessons every week. She takes you on a journey that starts long before slavery in America, and updates you constantly to keep learning and growing while you #dothework. I’ve learned more in 30 days than I learned in 20 years of school, but most importantly, I’ve learned that I have so much more to learn.

Marc McCollum, President of Media & Technology

Recommendation: So Money” podcast with Farnoosh Torabi

Description: Farnoosh is a contributing editor to NextAdvisor (one of RV’s homegrown brands!) in partnership with TIME. In June, Farnoosh did an incredible series called “Black Wealth Matters.” 

Why I Recommend It: Right now, the net worth of a typical white family is $171,000. This is literally 10 times more than Black households: $17,000. How did this happen? As a nation, how did we end up with such a sickeningly massive wealth gap? This podcast series explores this question with a series of terrific guests. Worth the listen!

Erin Petersen, Editor in Chief & Leader of Healthline’s Women’s Employee Resource Group

Recommendation: What is Owed” by Nikole Hannah-Jones

Description: This article by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones (also the creator of the “1619 Project”) details the ways in which the U.S. government has been complicit in preventing Black Americans from accumulating wealth and accessing the “American Dream.” Her reporting elegantly connects our nation’s history to our present-day reality, detailing the massive wealth gap and affirming the argument that reparations are more urgent than ever. 

Why I Recommend It: Reparations has been a controversial topic for some and if you’re interested in learning more about the “why” and the “how,” this is a great place to begin. It’s a piece you’ll want to spend time with – I know I bookmarked it and came back several times so that I could look up more about some of the events and authors she cites throughout. It’s arresting and, at times, deeply uncomfortable. For me personally, it was a reminder that I have to combine my ongoing education with action that creates meaningful and material change if I want to be and ally and an accomplice to racial justice and equality.

There’s a line near the end that has stayed with me since I first read it: 

“Will this moment only feel different? Or will it actually be different?”

Looking for more ways to boost your D&I learning? Dive into the most impactful takeaways from our first “Uplift Panel.

About the Author:
Sarah Harris | Communications Strategist
Sarah Harris

Sarah joined the Red Ventures creative team in 2018 after graduating from North Carolina State University. (GO PACK!) When she isn't whipping up killer content for the Corporate Communications team, she can be found posting pictures of the many frogs that live around the Charlotte campus (there are like, a lot).

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