A variety, fairness and inclusion studying listing—compiled and really useful by La Salle college
The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as other police and high profile incidents in 2020 involving people of color, made many Americans think about racism.
This reflection likely involves looking at personal blind spots when it comes to prejudice and the role we can unconsciously play in marginalizing others. It also includes an obligation to learn more about the experiences of the marginalized through books that guide us to look at unpleasant truths and focus on ugly chapters in history.
Faculty thought leaders on diversity, equity and inclusion and staff at La Salle University have compiled a list of books, poetry and more. These readings, considered “essential” by those with whom we have spoken, could prove to be a good place to start. They cover discrimination in a variety of forms, from the bleak period between the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement of the 1960s, to racism in nursing, education, and the US prison system.
Almost all of these works are available from the Connelly Library.
Rosemary Barbera, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Chairman, Department of Social Work
Recommended literature: From #BlackLivesMatter to the liberation of blacksby Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
“There are many good books to read to understand how white supremacy permeates the way we think, act, and what and whom we consider important. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s book meticulously examines how structural racism continues in the US with devastating results. She adds a class analysis which indicates that while some blacks have made it, the system is against the vast majority. Your work is important today as it connects us to the past, such as how the Kerner Commission concluded that riots were the result of white racism that perpetuates black poverty. As she says, “The past is not the past.” It offers hope by documenting the brave action and organization of young black leaders to transform US society. ”
Tara Carr-Lemke, MA
Director, The Explorer Connection and Service Learning, De La Salle Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning
Recommended reading: Equity & Excellence in Education, 45 (4), “Service Learning as the Pedagogy of Whiteness” (pp. 612-629), by Tania D. Mitchell, David M. Donahue and Courtney Young-Law
“The authors examine three aspects of whiteness – its historical construction, its normative privileges, and its insistence on color blindness – and combine them with service learning. They argue that service learning based on a “pedagogy of whiteness” poorly educates white students, marginalizes color students, harms partners in the community, and fails to create transformative education. Then they deconstruct a service learning project that was conceived out of “good intentions”, but which does not take the perspectives of color students into account or urge white students to reflect critically. The article is powerful to me because, while theoretically grounded, it offers an easily accessible real life case to break apart. When I originally read the article, I had some painful moments of self-recognition in the white teacher’s missteps. I have come back to it over and over and now read and reflect with the students as we rethink our notions of “service” in community learning. “
Rhonda Hazell, DPM
Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
Recommended reading: And all our wounds forgiven, by Julius Lester
“This is a very powerful book that closes the circle of the civil rights movement in our current struggle. Despite the fact that this book was published in 1994, readers get a fresh perspective on the racial segregation that plagues America today. It’s like it was freshly written in 2020 as we keep seeing injustices. Starting on page three, “I thought social change meant passing laws to change behavior and to remove, or at least reform, institutions that acted unfairly and punish those who refused to change their behavior, if not theirs Settings. ” The reality is that behavior change as a transformation of values must come from within. Each individual must take responsibility for the transformation process. It is a journey from which many are one step away, as the downward spiral in our society shows. “
James Jesson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of English
Recommended reading: “Song of Myself” from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
“One of my favorite literary works that explores and celebrates the diversity of America is Walt Whitman’s long poem, Song of Myself, from his book Leaves of Grass. Whitman wrote the poem in the 1850s when the Civil War was on the horizon and Americans were deeply divided over slavery. His goal was to overcome the divisions among Americans and show them that their common nationality – and common humanity – bound them more than regional, racial, and class differences. Whitman’s method is to model a radical form of empathy, a sustained effort to envision the experiences of any type of person. Therefore, in the third line of the poem, he says to the reader: “Every atom that is mine as good is yours.” These efforts to remove the distance between yourself and others are inspiring and a model of how we should all approach each other. “
Br. Ernest Miller, FSC, D. Min., MA ’95
Vice President for Mission, Diversity and Inclusion
Recommended Reading: Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
“Stony the Road tells the story from the abolition of slavery to rebuilding and the separation from Jim Crow. The end of slavery after the civil war is a familiar story. The unfamiliar story is the terror unleashed by white supremacy groups and the loss of the North’s will to uphold the freedom of black citizens. The steep retreat from reconstruction was followed by one of the most violent periods in US history, when thousands of blacks were lynched by white guards and many more were affected by the corrupt imposition of de jure segregation. Readers will learn not only our history of oppression, but also the bold resistance of figures like Ida B. Wells and WEB DuBois to the tide of white supremacy. “
Maureen O’Connell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Religion and Theology
Recommended Reading: Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, by Bryan Massingale
“Fordham University black Catholic priest and professor Bryan Massingale addresses obstacles to significant Catholic engagement in the work of racial justice both within the Church and in society. It explains various forms of racism, offers a history of the Catholic Church’s limited responses to racial inequalities, and then provides spiritual and practical approaches to reconciliation. He continues to pull me out of my white comfort zone so that as a Catholic woman I can stand up for racial justice. “
Luisa Ossa, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Global Languages, Literatures and Perspectives and Coordinator of the Spanish Program for Students
Recommended Reading: Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, by Steve Silberman
“This is an important book, not only for those who want to learn about autism, but also for those who want to know about the marginalization of the history of the disabled throughout history. In addition, the book contains chapters that provide valuable information on the white supremacist roots of racism and capacity consciousness, as it explains how eugenicists used the pseudosciences to advance racist and powerful ideologies, many of which are unfortunately entrenched in our society. “
Daniel Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Public Health
Recommended Reading: Wild Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools, by Joanathan Kozol
“This book highlights the desperate circumstances faced by families and students in East St. Louis, Illinois, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri. Despite its proximity to a major city, the residents of this very poor African American community feel isolated and undesirable in St. Louis. Kozol’s description of poverty and decline in East St. Louis is remarkable, and reminds me of the conditions I have only read about in classical literature and seen on my travels to underdeveloped countries across Central America. Certainly, I thought, such poverty and despair could not exist in a rich country like ours. But it does. It is only hidden by fears to venture outside of bourgeois America. “
Anthony Paul Smith, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Religion and Theology
Recommended reading: Afropessimism, by Frank B. Wilderson III
“This book is part-memoir / part-critical theory and demands nothing less than the end of our anti-black world. Wilderson introduces the demand that we rethink the world we live in and look down to see the violence against blacks on which it is built. While some may think that we are called to anti-racism, this book asks us the question of how exactly the desires we bring to anti-racist work are structured even by anti-black. I was challenged intellectually and broken emotionally. I invite you to break away from that too, because if we give up the dream of innocence, we may have to start if we want something other than this world. “
Caitlin Taylor, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology
Recommended Reading: Are Prisons Out Of Date ?, By Angela Y. Davis
Angela Y. Davis vividly outlines the multitude of ways in which racism has always been a central feature of the US criminal justice system, particularly in prisons. Davis argues that racism cannot be removed from the prison facility because it is so ingrained, and advocates the abolition of the prison and an alternative system of transformative justice that directly and purposefully deals with racism, male dominance, homophobia, Must deal with class bias and other governance structures. ‘Your vision of what a world without prisons would look like can inspire and motivate those who continue to struggle against structures that perpetuate racial and social inequality. “
Jeannine Uribe, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Nursing
Recommended Reading: The Path We Tread: Blacks in Nursing, 1854-1984, by Mary Elizabeth Carnegie
“Dr. Mary Elizabeth Carnegie was a nurse who experienced racism and prejudice in nursing and society, but continuously worked against injustice to overcome many racial barriers. This book tells the stories of black nurses in the United States who are theirs Had to open her own nursing schools and fought for the right to participate in military service and university nursing programs. Reading Dr. Carnegie’s biography shows that she lived through these difficulties and helped integrate nursing schools in the United States. “