15th SV Reads program focuses on bias, justice

The annual Silicon Valley Reads program is set to celebrate its 15th anniversary with free events throughout Santa Clara County, including several at the Los Altos main library.

The goal of Silicon Valley Reads is to encourage reading, thinking and talking about important topics. This year’s theme, “…and justice for all,” focuses on “unconscious biases we all have, and how these assumptions, perceptions and prejudices can lead to people being treated unfairly, especially in the legal system,” organizers said, with the goal “to raise awareness and spark new ideas on how we can reduce bias in our legal system and our daily lives.”

Kick-off interview

Silicon Valley Reads 2017 kicks off 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Visual and Performing Arts Center at De Anza College in Cupertino. Mercury News columnist Sal Pizarro will interview Adam Benforado, New York Times best-selling author of “Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice.” Admission is free, with open seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. The campus bookstore will sell books before and after the program, and Benforado will sign books afterward.

The event is co-sponsored by the Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley and De Anza College.

The adjacent Euphrat Museum of Art will be open 6:30-7:30 p.m. and during the book signing for free viewing of the exhibition “Justice for All?”

A $3 parking ticket is required.

Los Altos Library events

The following events are scheduled at the Los Altos main library, 13 S. San Antonio Road.

• 4 p.m. Feb. 22: Participants will draw or write in a square things that all people have in common. The squares will be assembled into a Community Kindness Quilt for display in the library.

The event is co-sponsored by the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.

• 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24: Benforado will discuss “Unfair” with Santa Clara County Assistant District Attorney James Gibbons-Shapiro. The book explores the problems with the current legal system and considers ways to change it.

Benforado said he wrote “Unfair” to help people “understand the hidden forces that lead to criminal injustice. … To make progress in our fight against abuse, unequal treatment and wrongful convictions, we must come together as a community to consider the psychological biases that shape the behavior of judges, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, police officers – and all of the rest of us.”

The event is co-sponsored by the Los Altos Library Endowment.

• 6:30 p.m. March 2: A screening of director Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed 2016 documentary “13th” will offer an in-depth look at the prison system in the U.S. and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality.

• 7 p.m. March 10: Sumbul Ali-Karamali, author of “The Muslim Next Door: The Qur’an, the Media and That Veil Thing,” will discuss “Islamophobia for Fun and Profit: Why Stereotypes about Islam and Muslims Persist.” Ali-Karamali will explore the historical, psychological and monetary reasons behind negative stereotypes of Islam and Muslims.

The event is co-sponsored by Los Altos Voices for Peace.

• 7 p.m. March 14: A screening of the film “Witch Hunt,” narrated by Sean Penn, will highlight the story of California resident John Stoll, falsely convicted of child molestation in the 1980s. Stoll was part of an epidemic of false convictions in the area. Through interviews with those unjustly arrested, the film examines the climate that contributed to the situation. Filmmaker Dana Nachman will introduce the film and answer audience questions after the showing.

Silicon Valley Reads is co-sponsored by the Santa Clara County Library District, the San Jose Public Library and the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

For more information on events scheduled throughout the county in February and March, including several for children and teens, visit

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