A few weeks ago while in South Africa on holiday, every time I passed by a bookstore I stopped to check if they had a copy of “We’re Going to Need More Wine” by Gabrielle Union. But from Johannesburg to Cape Town, the book was sold out. And so, as soon as I was back in Canada, I wasted no time trying to find a copy of it in my local library.
The book did not disappoint. Union describes the relentless advocacy needed when you are trying to support children of colour through the school system, gives advice to get over heartbreak, explores why Hollywood is so white, is honest about the power differentials that arise when you have a different income from your partner, describes the pain of miscarriage, talks about importance of investing in people and curating gatherings that matter, shares why you need to find your voice, value yourself, and be brave, and urges her readers to recognize that comparison and tearing people down does nothing for you in addition to many other topics. Overall, Union covers a lot of ground in this book, and reading it felt like spending a weekend or several hours with a wise, honest friend who is not going to hold back in her advice. I loved it.
What stuck with me the most from this book however, is Union’s reflections on career. Over the past two years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of students about building a career of meaningful work, and for me, this book was a reminder that when it comes to finding work as a person of colour, your experiences are not determined solely by what your resume looks like or how good your networking skills are. How employers make space for you and respond to you plays a role in your employment experiences too. And so, given that the average career book does not offer advice on how to navigate the job market as a racialized person, here are five take-aways from the book to help you both navigate the world of work as a racialized person or a co-conspirator trying to support the career journeys of others.
It’s summer time and there’s no better time to find great books, support your local bookstore and open up your bookshelf to authors you wouldn’t normally try. Below, a haul of (some) books during a recent trip to Toronto and my thoughts of a book that is quite possibly my favourite read of all time.
This book is all the things.
My day job is to help students at a large research-intensive university make meaning of their experiences and build purpose. I’m an experiential educator, a position that is a new application for me of my social planning background. And although the past year has been a steep learning curve, I’m enjoying and growing in this new line of work.
Part of that learning has involved reading ”career” books, and one thing I have noticed is that it’s hard to find books about career that are written by people of colour. And so, every time I find a book that is written by a POC and talks about intersectional identities, I want to tell everyone I know about it.
And so as part of that slowly building list of books, I have two career books to share.
The past few months for me since November’s election results in the US have been a time of feeling bewildered, confused, angry, despondent and fiercely determined. Reading has been a way to make sense of my confusion, and here are four books that have helped me make sense of the world.
These four books are:
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla
- The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
- Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak
Watch the video below for my take-aways from each book!
I have a new favourite book. I just read Nadia Davids book “An Imperfect Blessing” published by Umuzi Press in 2014 and it’s difficult to express how amazing this book is. This book is about a Cape Malay family in Cape Town in 1986 and 1993, and in the telling of the family’s story, so much of South Africa’s history is told as well. I love the incredible female characters, the window it offers readers into South Africa, and the way it challenges readers to go and read more about South Africa’s history. It is a stunning book, and I highly highly recommend the book. The information I had about South Africa was poor before I moved to Johannesburg, and in the telling of one family’s very specific story, this book shares so much about South Africa as a whole. This book is a gift.
My full video review is above. Please do share and comment with your thoughts!