At the NYC Leadership Academy, we are always looking to learn from other experts in education leadership and equity to inform and sharpen our work. That means we are constantly reading, listening, watching. In honor of the close of 2019, we’re thrilled to share our favorite equity-focused books, films, podcasts, and articles that inspired us this year. We hope they will be as enlightening for you as they have been for us.   

This list is by no means comprehensive, and we would love to expand it. Please share with us resources you have found valuable this year by posting them on Twitter using the hashtag #EquityReads2019 and our handle @NYCLeadership, or email them to so we can add them to this list.


The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students by Anthony Abraham Jack looks at the additional struggles disadvantaged students face after they gain acceptance to elite colleges and universities. NYC Leadership Academy President CEO Nancy Gutiérrez recommends this read. 

In Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist, his main thesis is simple yet profound: Simply not being racist is not enough. We can and must actively choose to be “antiracist” and work to undo racism and the policies that sustain it in order to build an equitable society. An inspiring read, great for book group discussion. Recommended by Chief Access & Equity Officer Mary Rice-Boothe. 

Leadership coach and facilitator Dr. Gregory Tewksbury recommends Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy by Gholdy Muhammad. Gregory notes, “This is an important new work that ties together much of the discussions about culturally responsive teaching and social justice pedagogy.” 

In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School the result of hours of classroom observation by Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine to explore what is and isn’t working in American schools. A Dr. Gutiérrez recommendation.  

Chief of Staff Carole Learned-Miller recommends Unconscious Bias in Schools: A Developmental Approach to Exploring Race and Racism by Tracey A. Benson and Sarah E. Fiarman. This resource explores the detrimental effect unconscious bias has on students and educators when left unchecked. 

Ellen Wu’s The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority traces the American sentiment toward Asian Americans from the intolerance of “yellow peril” to the reverence of the “model minority” stereotype.  

Dr. Gutiérrez recommends The Alliance Way: The Making of a Bully-Free School by Tina M. Owen-Moore. Owen-Moore, cofounder and former lead teacher of The Alliance School, details the beliefs and practices that allowed them to create a safe and supportive environment for their students. 

Drawing on her life’s work of teaching in and researching urban schools, Bettina Love persuasively argues in We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom that educators must teach students about racial violence, oppression, and how to make sustainable change in their communities through radical civic initiatives and movements. 

Much of the work we do with leaders around addressing inequities in schools starts with self. Rhonda Magee’s The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness recommends using the practice of mindfulness “to increase our emotional resilience, recognize our own biases, and become less reactive when triggered.” 

In What Does It Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy, Robin DiAngelo explores the concept of whiteness, using her perspective as a white person to help other white people grapple with the often ignoredor deniedimplications of their racial identity. 

Writer, speaker, podcast host and racial justice advocate Layla Saad explores the intersections of race, spirituality, feminism, and leadership in her best-selling workbook Me and White Supremacy, soon to be published as a book. The book is intended as a personal anti-racism tool for white and “white passing” readers to examine their white privilege and role in white supremacy. Consider using it in a group, as some of our white staff members did. This workbook can be a transformative experience for readers who take the time required to write, reflect, and change, says our Senior Director of Learning Systems Rachel Scott. 

Films/Short Videos 

Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us is a movie based on the true story of five Harlem teens falsely accused of attacking a jogger in Central Park in 1989.  The film chronicles their arrest, interrogation, trial, and incarceration prior to their eventual exonerationTheir heartbreaking story explores the role that race and bias plays in the criminal justice system. 

Numerous stereotypesprejudices, and implicit biases are at play in American Sonfilm that tells the story of an estranged interracial couple awaiting news of their missing teenage son in a Florida police station. 

Race Forward, an organization that catalyzes movementbuilding for racial justice, has a video series on how institutional racism shows up in housing, employment and incarceration. 

The documentary series America to Me takes an honest look at the different experiences of students in two diverse suburban Chicago schoolsFrom the unique perspectives of such a diverse student body, the program explores the role that race and equity play in education. 

In Liz Kleinrock’s TED Talk, “How to teach kids about taboo topics, she recounts how she responded when a student used racially insensitive language during a conversation about raceShe shares what became a teachable moment for her students.  

Articles/ Downloads 

The 1619 Project is an incredible interactive project observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery, curated by Nikole Hannah-Jones. As it was described in the New York Times, “It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are. Recommended by Chief Access & Equity Officer Mary Rice-Boothe.

The New York Times article Can Biology Class Reduce Racism by Amy Harmon explores an attempt to dispel myths and biases perpetuated by “unfounded genetic rationales for human difference that often become the basis for racial intolerance.” Biology teachers across the county are testing a new approach to science that intentionally adds race to the genetic conversation. 

This Teen Vogue articlby Juvenile Law Center’s Jessica Feierman and Girls for Gender Equity’s Ashley Sawyer talks about the constant silencing of Black girls in the U.S. “It’s time for us to stop silencing Black girls and charging their families for a racially unjust system. We must instead make room for their voices, their insights, and their leadership.”   

In this Atlantic articleauthor and historian Ibram X. Kendi talks about the short life expectancy of Black males in the wake of the early death of Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings. 

The National Equity Project developed this useful resource detailing the “Lens of Systemic Oppression” and how it can bring focus to those who coach and lead for equity. 


Pedagogy of the Obsessed podcast features interviews with education leaders doing the necessary work to create systems that support all students. President & CEO Nancy Gutiérrez was a recent guest. 

School Colors follows generations of parents and educators fighting for their children and their community in a rapidly changing Black neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. Recommended by Senior Director of Strategic Communications Jill Grossman for its powerful storytelling and first-hand accounts.

Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate and leading scholar of critical race theory has partnered with The African American Policy Forum to create “the podcast that brings intersectionality to life.” With Intersectionality MattersKimberlé uses an intersectionality lens to bring clarity to contemporary and historical issues of inequity and injustice. 

Insightful and educational, The Stoop offers rich stories and perspectives about what it means to be Black and how Black people talk about blackness. 

Described by hosts Matika Wilbur and Adrienne Keen as “a place to explore our relationshipsrelationships to land, to our creatural relatives, and to one another,” All My Relations delves into a variety of topics and issues related to the Indigenous experience. 

Hosts Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings’ unique brand of story-telling in The Nod celebrates the genius, the innovation, and the resilience that is so particular to being Black in America and around the world.