Silicon Valley Reads

Silicon Valley Reads 2016 - Chance of RAIN: The impact of climate change on our lives

In 2017, our 15th anniversary, Silicon Valley Reads focuses on “. . . and justice for all,” a conversation about the unconscious biases we all have, and how these assumptions, perceptions and prejudices can lead to people being treated unfairly, especially in the legal system.  Everyone has, at one time or another, been unfairly judged because of some type of bias and our goal is to raise awareness​ and spark new ideas on how we can reduce bias in our legal system and our daily lives.

by Adam Benforado

A crusading legal scholar exposes the powerful psychological forces that undermine our criminal justice system—and affect us all. Our nation is founded on the notion that the law is impartial, that legal cases are won or lost on the basis of evidence, careful reasoning and nuanced argument. But they may, in fact, turn on the temperature of the courtroom, the camera angle of a defendant's taped confession, or a simple word choice or gesture during a cross-examination.
In Unfair, law professor Adam Benforado shines a light on troubling new research, showing, for example, that people with certain facial features receive longer sentences and that judges are far more likely to grant parole first thing in the morning. In fact, over the last two decades, psychologists and neuroscientists have uncovered many cognitive forces that operate beyond our conscious awareness. Benforado argues that until we address these hidden biases head-on, the social inequality we see now will only widen, allowing increased exploitation of the weaknesses in our legal system.
Weaving together historical examples, scientific studies, and compelling court cases, Benforado reveals how our judicial processes fail to uphold our values and protect society's most vulnerable members, convicting the innocent while letting dangerous criminals go free. With clarity and passion, he lays out the scope of the problem and proposes a wealth of reforms that could prevent injustice and help us achieve true fairness and equality before the law.

Bookcover: Unfair


Writing My Wrongs
by Shaka Senghor

A former prisoner, TED mentor, and criminal justice reform advocate traces his coming of age at the height of Detroit's crack epidemic and his nineteen years in prison before he was motivated to help at-risk youth and raise awareness about America's system of mass incarceration.
Shaka Senghor was raised in a middle class neighborhood on Detroit’s eastside during the height of the 1980s crack epidemic. An honor roll student and a natural leader, he dreamed of becoming a doctor—but at age 11, he began a downward spiral that saw him run away from home, turn to drug dealing to survive, and land in prison for murder at the age of 19, fuming with anger and despair.      

Writing My Wrongs is the story of what came next. During his 19-year incarceration, Senghor discovered literature, meditation, and self-examination—tools that he used to confront the demons of his past, forgive the people who hurt him, and begin atoning for the wrongs he had committed. Upon his release at age 38, Senghor became an activist and mentor to young people facing circumstances like his.  His writing and work in the community led him to fellowships at the MIT Media Lab and the Kellogg Foundation and invitations to speak at events like TED and the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Writing My Wrongs is a redemption story that depicts what it's like to grow up in the gravitational pull of poverty, violence, fear, and hopelessness. It's an unforgettable tale of forgiveness and hope, reminding us that our worst deeds don't define who we are or what we can contribute to the world. Writing My Wrongs is a lasting testament to the power of compassion, prayer, and unconditional love, for reaching those whom society has forgotten. Through this book, Shaka Senghor shows us that in life, it's not how you start that matters. It's how you finish.      

Bookcover: Writing My Wrongs


Silicon Valley Reads is presented by the Santa Clara County Library District, the San Jose Public Library Foundation and the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Each year, the program collaborates with community organizations to promote reading and literacy and to engage the community in dialogue about themes in a selected book or books that are relevant to Silicon Valley.   An extensive schedule of events is offered throughout Santa Clara County with activities for all age groups.  For more information on Silicon Valley Reads, visit the website