What We Read, Watched, and Listened to in 2019
Download These WFCO Staff Recommendations
From Ted Talks to podcasts, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s staff consumes a lot of content that informs our work and aligns with our passions. If you visit our office, you often can hear us recommending to each other the latest and greatest series to binge watch or audio books to download for our commutes. This does involve a disproportionate amount of true crime and not-to-be-named reality TV, but also many other topics. We are pleased to share our top recommendations with our supporters on what to read, watch, and listen to before 2019 is over.
The Netflix series “Unbelievable” blew me away. The cast, the acting, the story, everything. It turns out it’s a true story, which is heartbreaking to learn. A young woman in Washington state is raped, and when she reports the crime to police, they doubt her. But they don’t just doubt her, two male detectives coerce her recantation and charge her with a gross misdemeanor. The course of her life changes because of it. She is ostracized by her community, leaves her job, loses her housing and friends. It takes me to the statement “Believe Survivors.” How many times throughout history have women been doubted, discounted, even vilified? We can’t begin to estimate what they’ve lost because of it. Fast forward several years, and similar rapes happen in Colorado. Two female detectives (from Golden and Westminster) see the similarities to the case in Washington. They have a different view of survivors and what they’ve been through; they believe their stories. The outcome is different this time. The ending isn’t exactly happy, but it is serious food for thought. The series is highly addicting and easy to binge watch over a weekend.
Love her or hate her, 2019 is the year that Chelsea Handler woke up. Politics leading up to the 2016 presidential election prompted Chelsea to understand her privilege and power and begin to use them for good. This is what she explores in the 2019 book “Life Will Be the Death of Me,” but she also addresses the deaths of her brother and mother, as well as her complicated relationship with her father. Of course, Chelsea is going to Chelsea, and there are less profound, but hilarious, chapters dedicated to her dogs and dating mishaps, but overall, a more complex and compassionate side of her emerges. During the process of becoming “woke,” Chelsea also produced a Netflix Series called “Hello, Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea.” I have yet to watch it, but it’s in the queue.
– Lisa Christie, senior director of communications
“If the goal was to increase the love, rather than winning or dominating a constant opponent, I think we could actually imagine liberation from constant oppression. We would suddenly be seeing everything we do, everyone we meet, not through the tactical eyes of war, but through eyes of love. We would see that there’s no such thing as a blank canvas, an empty land or a new idea – but everywhere there is complex, ancient, fertile ground full of potential.” – Adrienne Maree Brown
I’m an avid reader. Sci-fi, romance, thrillers, mystery, classics, historical, memoirs – you name it, I’m there. Yet over the last few years school has dictated what I read – most commonly this has involved dense 20–30 page articles or textbooks written a decade ago. This year, however, I had the opportunity to read “Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds” by community activist Adrienne Maree Brown. I would describe it as a non-linear guide for achieving change in this world that doesn’t just continue to replicate the systems of oppression in our society. It is all about relationships, change, and most importantly love. Love for ourselves, each other, other animals, the planet, and I would even venture to say love for the future that could be if we came together. If you haven’t picked it up yet, I recommend you do.
– Mariana Diaz, programs coordinator
Whenever I’m on vacation, at home with sick kiddos, or taking a day for myself, I try to find a compelling book to devour. I’m one who needs to be hooked within the first few pages. “Rising Out of Hatred” by Eli Saslow had me hooked at the title. This is the story of Derek Black, the son of the founder of Stormfront (the largest racist community on the internet), godson of David Duke – the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, and the rightful heir to America’s white nationalist movement. While attending New College of Florida, his identity was revealed and he found himself on the receiving end of anger and hate from many who felt threatened by him. However, there were a few diverse students who befriended him because they believed in the good in people. Relationships developed, friendships formed, and along this journey Derek questioned everything he was taught to believe and everything he preached. The good did prevail. He ultimately disavowed white nationalism publicly. During this period of deepening racial divide, this story provides me with hope and deep faith in the power of building friendships with those different from ourselves and believing good wins in the end.
– Renee Ferrufino, vice president of development
Even though Dan Pallotta’s TED Talk, “The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong,” is from 2013 and some of the language he uses rubs me the wrong way, the spirit of it is on my mind as we enter 2020. Because the nonprofit sector is dominated by women, how can we think differently about philanthropy and supporting nonprofits in a way that is gender inclusive and in a trusting manner? I believe the onus is on foundations and philanthropists to re-examine the way in which they think about their grants, their board service, and why they engage in philanthropy.
– Alison Friedman Phillips, director of programs
I’m currently reading “Handprints on Hubble: An Astronaut’s Story of Invention” by Kathryn D. Sullivan. The author is the first American woman to walk in space and a member of the space shuttle crew that launched the Hubble telescope. Hubble completely revolutionized space exploration and our understanding of the universe. So many of the stunning images we get of space come to us because of this powerful telescope. In the book, Kathryn details her journey to becoming an astronaut and her role in launching Hubble, but she also calls attention to the vast team responsible for conceiving of, building, and launching the telescope. This book is definitely a must read for anyone who loves space or powerful women changing the world (or if you are like me, books that are about both)!
– Mallory Garner-Wells, statewide engagement manager
Sometimes, I feel like I live in my headphones – whether I’m at home curled up with a book, outside walking my dog, or at work entrenched in my creative space. I’m always listening to something. And when I’m not jamming out to my usual playlist of hip hop and R&B hits, I’m listening to a podcast. This year, one of those podcasts was “FriendsLikeUs.” Hosted by comedian Marina Franklin, it brings together women of color for every episode (except for the once-a-month appearance of a man or two) to discuss the latest hot topics in the world, which can span from gun violence and racism to “Black Panther,” the Academy Awards, and Kanye West. Many of the guests featured are also comedians (including one of my favorites, Leslie Jones from “SNL”), so the discussions are always laced with comedy. However, there are also artists, poets, influencers, and other professionals featured. Every episode reminds me of the many late-night chats that I have with my girlfriends, and as a woman of color it’s so refreshing to tune into a space where my own experiences, thoughts, and reactions are often reflected. You’ll laugh, you’ll think, you’ll roll your eyes, and you may even cry (from laughing). It’s truly a good one!
– Erica Jackson, digital marketing specialist
“The Education of An Idealist” is an honest memoir by one of the most powerful foreign policy and human rights advocates of our time. So much of her story is both inspiring and improbable. Her mother is an Irish immigrant whose ambition and desire to continue her education drove her to divorce Samantha’s alcoholic father and move her family to America. An activist at heart, Samantha falls into becoming a war correspondent in Sarajevo and witnessing genocide first hand. This begins a journey into human rights, foreign policy, and her own role in changing history. Along the way she tackles mental health issues that manifest with recurring physical pain. Her openness about her struggles, from mental health to building meaningful female friendships to finding romantic love, is refreshingly relatable. The most moving part of her story is her belief that we can all become “upstanders,” a word she created as an antonym to bystander. We can all stand up in the face of discrimination, war, and inequality. We can all make a difference.
A great film with two amazing women – Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson. “Late Night” presents a serious topic with compassion and humor. It’s the story of a successful late-night talk show host of a certain age and an inspiring comedian who is actually a scientist with no comedy writing experience. The story tackles diversity in the workplace and the intersections of sex, race, age, culture, and power. Katherine, the late-night host, was “the first” and pulled up the ladder behind her. Working with a team of exclusively of white men, she is on the verge of losing her job to a younger host. She is forced to diversify her team and reluctantly hires Molly – an Asian-American woman. Both women are underestimated at the start, but together, they break stereotypes and make each other better employees and better people.
– Colleen LaFontaine, director of development
“$2.00 a Day” is a book that takes a hard look at extreme poverty. It isn’t just a problem in developing nations – families are living on $2.00 a day in our own country in record numbers. Kathryn J. Edin takes a deep dive into the lives of several families living on $2.00 a day and details what sacrifices they make to keep moving forward. The author also gives her take on how TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) affects single mothers, the largest group of which is located in the South or the Appalachian region and have gone from surviving to living off what they can find. Modonna Harris, a single mother in Chicago, noted in the book she lived in a shelter with her daughter and someone would bring food for the weekend, “but recently all he’s brought is nasty-smelling milk well beyond its expiration date.”