Insurance summer reading list

Our culture values continuous learning, personal growth, and humility. Therefore, it has become a tradition that, each year, we poll our colleagues to ask for their latest reads to kick-start summer, a season when many of us seek time to reflect and recharge. Learn how our 2020 reading list is inspiring us.

The views expressed are those of the authors at the time of writing. Individual teams may hold different views. The value of your investment may become worth more or less than at the time of original investment.

Our culture values continuous learning, personal growth, and humility. Therefore, it has become a tradition that, each year, we poll our colleagues to ask for their latest reads to kick-start summer, a season when many of us seek time to reflect and recharge.

2020 is unfolding as a year of disruption and reflection sparked by the global pandemic, ongoing racial injustice, and violence. This has led many of our colleagues to seek to gain more understanding and to want to do more. For example, some of us are increasing our knowledge and impact as “active allies and advocates.” We are starting now by learning more about the social constructs surrounding race, social inequity, disparities, and prejudice that have affected the African/Black heritage community.

As such, to inspire you to consider ways to support your families and colleagues, our Insurance Team is sharing a compilation of articles, books, videos, and podcasts that we have found particularly insightful in recent weeks. We invite you to read, listen, and initiate a conversation that leads to greater understanding and trust-based relationships across racial backgrounds. We each play a role to realize the promise of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) — not for tomorrow, but for today.

We wish you and your families a safe and joyful summer with ample time to refresh, reflect, and recharge.

Alyssa Irving

Video — Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man
by Emmanuel Acho

“In this series, Emmanuel Acho sits down to have an ‘uncomfortable conversation’ with white America, in the hopes of educating and informing on racism, social injustice, rioting, and the hurt African Americans are experiencing.”
Suggested by: Alyssa Irving, Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Muger Morose

Book — How to Be an Antiracist
by Ibram X. Kendi

“Dr. Kendi engages readers with a personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism — from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities — that will help readers understand the poisonous consequences of racism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to contribute to the formation of a truly just and equitable society. ”
Suggested by: Muger Morose, Business Associate
Rich Coffman

Book — Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know
by Malcolm Gladwell

“Malcolm Gladwell provides helpful ideas and perspective for troubled times. How do we make sense of people we don’t know? As Gladwell writes, ‘Often, because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.’ The author purports that many of us have an inflated idea of our ability to judge others, not realizing that we may misinterpret people’s comments and gestures. We don’t always recognize that those with a different background may communicate in ways unfamiliar to us.”
Suggested by: Rich Coffman, Business Development Manager
Tim Haney

Book — A Nation Rising: Untold Tales from America’s Hidden History
by Kenneth C. Davis

“From 1800 through 1850, the United States went from a tiny newborn nation on the Atlantic seaboard to a near-empire that spanned the continent. But America’s path to nationhood was vastly more complex than the tidily packaged national myth of visionary political leaders and fearless pioneers. Davis offers fascinating, intertwining stories about historical episodes whose great issues — ambition, power, territorial expansion, slavery, intolerance, civil rights, freedom of the press — reverberate to this day.”
Suggested by: Tim Haney, Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Courtney Madden

Book & Movie — Just Mercy: A story of Justice and Redemption
by Bryan Stevenson

“This best-selling book is also a feature film starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in 1989 to provide legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons. This powerful true story focuses on one of Stevenson’s first clients, Walter McMillian, a Black man who was sentenced to die for the murder of a young white woman that he didn’t commit. ”

Suggested by: Courtney Madden, Relationship Manager

Kimberley Majury
Article — What Leading with Optimism Really Looks Like
by Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan
“This article offers the findings of a multiyear research project on positivity. In the midst of a setback or challenging time is when leaders should be actively encouraging positivity to help teams weather the storm. These findings are contrary to the belief that leaders look out of touch by trying to emphasize positivity during extreme and dire circumstances such as a pandemic. ”
Suggested by: Kimberley Majury, Insurance Marketing Strategist
Shawna Ferguson
“Drawn from sources such as NPR, Sesame Street Workshop, Teaching Tolerance, and The New York Times, this curated list of resources can facilitate important discussions to help children understand and confront racial injustice and prepare them to live and work in our diverse world.”
Suggested by: Shawna Ferguson, Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion
Jeff Benevides

Documentary — 13th
by Ava DuVernay

“DuVernay’s documentary refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, and is an extraordinary film featuring scholars, activists, and politicians analyzing the criminalization of African-Americans and the US prison boom. ”
Suggested by: Jeff Benevides, Manager, Client Service Management
Mahmoud El-Shaer
“The Diversity Project, founded in the UK by companies in the savings and investment industries, recently hosted a panel discussion and call to action on racial injustice and the issues facing our Black colleagues. Their guidance contains practical ways and resources for all to make a positive and sustainable difference.”
Suggested by: Mahmoud El-Shaer, Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Mike Stack

Book — A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League
by Ron Suskind

“An inspiring true story of Cedric Jennings, a determined young Black man who, armed only with his intellect and his willpower, fights his way out of despair from life in an inner-city school in Washington, DC, to Brown University. The book portrays the problems of inner-city educational systems and how students from these systems are affected throughout their lives. ”
Suggested by: Michael Stack, Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Christina Koutris

Documentary — Trial by Media: 41 Shots

“This documentary follows the media covering the case and trail of Amadou Diallo, an African immigrant from Ghana, who was fatally shot 41 times by four white undercover NYPD police officers who mistook him for a rape suspect in 1999. Despite the fact that Diallo had not committed a crime, the media covering this case focused on their own gain by dehumanizing him.”

Suggested by: Christina Koutris, Insurance Client Analyst

Abigail Clare

Initiative — The 1619 Project

“This is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the center of our national narrative.”

Suggested by: Abigail Clare, Client Service Manager

Meghan Mahoney
“In September 2016, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington, DC. In covering the opening, The Washington Post invited the public to submit their own historical objects that represent their personal and family connection to Black history. This podcast brings those objects and their stories to life through interviews, archival sound, and music, capturing personal moments that portray the larger story of being Black in America. ”
Suggested by: Meghan Mahoney, Business Manager
Tim Antonelli

Book — Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
by James Clear

“The time to self-reflect during the pandemic has inspired many of us to instill meaningful changes in how we can help others, and better ourselves. To aid in that quest, this book, Atomic Habits, breaks down the science behind starting and achieving a new “habit.” It’s an intriguing take on something many of us take for granted. ”

Suggested by: Tim Antonelli, Insurance Multi-Asset Strategist

Andrew Paone

Article — Upstairs and Downstairs
by Sam Acho

“This article by NFL player Sam Acho on systemic racism offers an alternative perspective on the Rooney Rule, the NFL policy that requires teams to include at least one minority candidate for head coaching jobs. I was surprised to learn that this rule, which is often cited by the business community and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) experts as a best practice, has produced no real change in 18 years within the sport for which it was designed, despite studies showing that Black coaches outperform their white counterparts.”

Suggested by: Andrew Paone, Relationship Manager

Marc Piccuirro

Podcast — 1865

“Secretary of War Edwin Stanton takes control, determined to bring the assassin to justice. But the hunt for John Wilkes Booth isn’t all that grips Stanton; Lincoln’s successor, Vice President Andrew Johnson, is likely to bend to southern interests and undo the very progress for which Lincoln died. Stanton must employ every bit of political wile he can muster to secure the future of the freed slaves, and the nation.”

Suggested by: Marc Piccuirro, Fixed Income Portfolio Manager

Eric Tanaka
“My wife and I had the chance to go to South Africa and learn about Nelson Mandela’s life and leadership while visiting the “Mandela House” in Soweto and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against Black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

— Nelson Mandela, 20 April 1964

Suggested by: Eric Tanaka, Director, Financial Reserves Management and Associate Director, Americas Institutional Group

Adrienne Frietsch
“You can’t think about something if you can’t talk about it. The writer helpfully opens up lived words and ideas like complacence, guilt, and opportunity hoarding for an urgent reckoning with whiteness. This conversation was inspired by her 2015 essay in The New York Times, White Debt.

Suggested by: Adrienne Frietsch, Client Analyst

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