Areva Martin’s new book Awakening: Ladies, Leadership, and the Lies We’ve Been Told is more than just the sum of its considerable subject matter. As an award-winning lawyer and advocate, Martin has been reflective of a number of legal and social issues through the years, but it feels like the book is as much a culmination of her veteran expertise on what she speaks as it is representative of the changing nature of the modern era. Martin cites the 2016 election as a major turning point ideologically – noting the intensive misogyny Clinton faced as the Democratic Party presidential candidate.


Then she flashes forward three years later – noting the six candidates for the 2020 Democratic Party ticket. “Kamala. Tulsi. Marianne. Elizabeth. Amy. Kirsten,” she writes. “In 2019, these six women stepped up to the plate and announced their run for president of the United States. The spotlight was on them as they stood on a national stage in debates that had seen very few women before them. Watching them gave me hope for myself, for my daughters, and to future generations of women around the world.” It’s by putting pertinent, humanistic analogies and examples to temper the sobering data and fieriness of Martin’s criticism of sexism and racial discrimination within the corporate jungle that really elevates the read. Despite providing a myriad of examples, evidence, and keen observational qualities, Martin is quick to emphasize the inhumanity first that so many women in the workplace, including people of color, face on a disciplined, daily basis.

The time has come, she states, regardless of one’s background, sex, or race, to dismantle a system which in her words has lied to the American woman for decades. “The system is not reality, but it has not been challenged on a large scale. There has never been threats of toppling or tearing down the system, even though it does not have to exist,” Martin writes. She goes to elaborate on this point, subsequently stating: “This lie has told women that they are not good enough to have a career and raise a family. It tells us that our value is defined by our beauty, not our brains or strengths…As we explore the consequences of this lie, remember: never underestimate your ability to change the world. The world has been built to work against you, but you are taking the first steps in changing that world and building a better system for yourself, your daughters, and all women.”


Martin’s primary literary focus is on workplace equity, but the book stretches beyond those perimeters to address the greater challenges workplace discrimination alludes to. As far as Martin is concerned, workplace discrimination is just one of the faces of the overall problematic system plaguing the average American. It is a jumping-off point, she argues, from which other issues will rise to the surface, and where there will be platforms from which specific parties related to said issues can demand accountability, justice, and ultimately change. It will not be an overnight process. But Martin argues the time is now. “You will get frustrated. I get frustrated.

When I feel impatient, I remember iconic civil rights leaders like John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Marsha P. Johnson. They dedicated their entire lives to equity and justice for all…their work became a catalyst for movements that have lasted for generations,” she writes. “…As you move from this moment and continue fighting, you can’t give up. You cannot let slow movement deter you from fighting. Take breaks, rest, and set aside time for self-care, but never give up.”

Kendall Townsend