This month, we're offering picks about feminism, discrimination through math, and the historical experiences of people of color in America. And with the election ever nearer (and the stakes ever higher), we’re sharing our favorite political movies and shows.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
In the Loop
Go to Mimi’s pick
Go to Scott’s pick
A few years ago, a friend sent me the short book Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The book is a response to a friend of Adichie asking her how to raise her baby girl to be a feminist. Since I’m raising a daughter, I figured it was time to revisit her suggestions. They include not speaking of marriage as an achievement and teaching daughters to question language, as it is “the repository of our prejudices, our beliefs, our assumptions.” One line feels particularly poignant today, as women make more career sacrifices than men during the pandemic: “We should be asking not whether a woman can ‘do it all’ but how best to support parents in their dual duties at work and at home.”
Go to Annie’s pick
Go to Katie’s pick
The combination of horror, science fiction, and social commentary in the
HBO series Lovecraft Country—which is told through the eyes of Black protagonists—juxtaposes scenes of the supernatural and racism in the Jim Crow–era United States, forcing viewers to consider which poses the bigger threat. The soundtrack is the surprise star, jumping from blues and jazz from the 1950s, to modern cuts and even spoken word.
I’m decades late to the book A People's History of the United States: 1492 – Present, which I received from my dad last year, who had gotten it from my brother. And after finding out my 91-year-old grandpa is also reading it, I'm joining the family book club.
Socialist, activist, and historian Howard Zinn researches and explains what actually happened in the history of America from the perspective of someone who is not a white, landowning male. As you can imagine, a lot has been either left out or blatantly lied about; although I am only five chapters in, the way I think about our country is already rapidly changing. Zinn delves into the ways in which the working class, people of color, enslaved Black people, and Indigenous people have historically been ignored, displaced, murdered, tricked, and turned against each other by the capitalist ruling class.
While it is hard to read at times (check any white fragility at the door), Zinn shows what hope can look like, how it can endure, and how hundreds of years of true resistance—not just manufactured “resistance” on a t-shirt or bumper sticker—can push us closer to making living in this country more accessible and fair for all.
Some of our work touches on applied mathematics. Even though the book Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy came out in 2016, it is a timely, detailed reminder that algorithms need constant tending and correction—if we decide that using them makes sense at all.
Our favorite political movies and series: