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Billy's Book Bag - September Edition

Three books Genii Earth CEO Billy Afghan recommends you consider reading and why.

By Amanda Ripley

Published April 2021

What role does humiliation and other deeply felt emotions play in escalating conflict?

Amanda Ripley’s thought-provoking book, “High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out,” delves into the roots of deep-seated conflicts, dissecting their causes and offering insightful strategies for breaking free from the clutches of polarization.

What’s intriguing about “High Conflict” is this paradox where our instincts lead us into the very conflicts we hope to avoid. Ripley dives into the world of hostage negotiations, political discord, and family disputes to unravel the psychology behind our often-counterproductive conflict resolution tactics. Ripley highlights our tendency to rally around identity-based conflicts that may not align with our true values. This helps explain why we often escalate conflicts instead of deescalating them.

Ripley offers strategies that involve understanding the role of our emotions, embracing humility (since the experience of “being humiliated” often triggers negative reactions), and engaging in meaningful conversations that bridge the gap between opposing sides.

This book demonstrates that despite the seemingly insurmountable nature of some conflicts, there are ways we can transcend hostility and polarization. By delving deeply into our own human tendencies and reactions that are counter to our own values, we can navigate high-conflict situations and create meaningful change.

When I think about my own reactions to feeling “humiliated”, welcoming and embracing humility feels like the right move to overcome reactive tendencies and see deeper into my core values and the shared values of others.  Thanks Amanda!

“More Than Ready: Be Strong and Be You… and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise”

by Cecilia Muñoz

How do you confront racism and sexism with grace and power?

“More than Ready” offers the answer to this question. It is a powerful and inspiring book that provides valuable insights and guidance for women of color navigating the complex world of leadership and success. Drawing upon her own experiences as a Latina woman who has risen to prominence in the field of public service, Muñoz provides a compelling narrative filled with wisdom, practical advice, and heartfelt encouragement.

Muñoz’s emphasizes the importance of embracing one’s identity and culture as strengths rather than obstacles. She encourages women of color to be unapologetically themselves and to draw strength from their unique backgrounds and perspectives.

She delves into the challenges that women of color often face in the workplace, including biases and stereotypes that can hinder their progress. Drawing on her direct experience as a member of President Obama’s White House staff covering immigration policy, she offers practical strategies for overcoming these obstacles, such as the importance of finding mentors and allies, speaking up for oneself, and building a support network.

Muñoz also shares the stories of other women of color who have achieved success in various fields, showcasing the diversity of paths to leadership and the different ways in which women can make their mark.

As the first generation of an immigrant mother, I personally relate to her stories. Her passion for empowering women of color shines through in every chapter, leaving me with a sense of determination and optimism for the young women in the next generations to come. She urges women to dream big, set ambitious goals, and take risks, reminding them that they are more than ready to overcome whatever challenges come their way.

This book is available on Audible in Cecilia’s own voice and is a must-listen for any woman, especially women of color aspiring to leadership roles, and for anyone interested in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Her message is clear: women of color are not only ready, but also more than ready to excel and lead in any field they choose.

Lose Your Mother

by Saidiya Hartman

What version of history do you hold when you think of the African slave trade?

“Lose Your Mother” by Saidiya Hartman is a haunting and profound journey through history, identity, and the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade. Hartman weaves together personal narrative, historical research, and critical analysis to create a moving account of her trip to Ghana in search of her own heritage and the lost stories of enslaved Africans.

The book’s title, “Lose Your Mother,” refers to a Ghanaian proverb that captures the disconnection and displacement experienced by the descendants of those who were forced into the African diaspora during the slave trade. She shares the perspective of today’s Black Americans hoping to find a return “home” to Africa, only to learn that Africa may not see Black Americans as lost children, revealing a modern version of “Lose Your Mother.”

Hartman draws on her own experiences as a Black woman traveling in Ghana, confronting the complexities of identity and belonging, and feeling both connected to and estranged from the land of her ancestors. This personal perspective adds a layer of emotional depth to the book, making it a compelling and relatable read.

She uncovers the stories of individuals who were caught in the brutal machinery of slavery, shedding light on the horrors they endured and the resilience they demonstrated in the face of unimaginable suffering. Through Hartman’s writing, these forgotten voices are given a chance to be heard, and their stories become an integral part of the narrative.

Saidiya Hartman’s work reminds me that history is not a static record but a living, breathing force that shapes our understanding of the world today, of ourselves, and how we choose to move through it.

What Hartman learns about herself and other Black Americans searching for answers in the motherland is surprising and insightful. She reminds us that underneath the human tendency to tie up history with conclusive bows lies a direct impact on the choices and views we hold today, binding us in ways that don’t always serve us.

This work has stayed with me and will continue to do so long after I closed the final page.

If you enjoyed this, would you share it with someone important to you?