3 Weekend Recommendations from The Office of Diversity


Illustration by Dean Gorissen via Pinterest 
  1. Leah Johnson/ Real Talk  Coordinator recommends…. Reading Sister Citizen: Shame Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa Harris-Perry 

So in this critique Perry uses the narrative provided by Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God  to give light to a number of larger issues:  one of them being the treatment and portrayal of Black folks during Hurricane Katrina.  MHP says something in here that really got me:  Hurricane Katrina is more than a metaphor.  It is largely an allegory on being Black in America. 

“Black Americans bristled as tens of thousands of African American men, women, and children were labeled as refugees by the US media, as if the disaster had occurred not on American soil but in a distant country. The refugee label had the effect of rhetorically removing black victims from the national responsibility, as though consequences of the levee failure were to be endured by foreigners rather than by Americans at the bottom of the same hierarchies of race and wealth that contributed to the disaster itself,” –Introduction, Pg. 12

  1. Elizabeth Sochko / Social Justice Programs Coordinator recommends…Reading The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers by Bhanu Kapil Rider.

This book is actually my first assigned text for one of my classes this semester. I’m astonished by it.  In the collection’s introduction, Rider writes, “The project as I thought it would be:  an anthology on the voices of Indian women.” she closes her introduction with, “The project as I wrote it: a tilted plane.” Rider interviewed women with a series of twelve questions. Some questions: How will you live now? What are the consequences of silence? What is the shape of your body? What follows are meditations on life and living. It is a beautiful, painful, and powerful ode to memory, history, experience, and female strength.

  1. Jaela Cheeks-Lomax /  Real Talk Facilitator recommends… Listening to “What’s Happening Brother” by Marvin Gaye .

Marvin Gaye is by far one of my all time favorite artists. His sound has resonated deeply with me since I was a young child. As a singer, I often find myself lost in the mystical quality of his music and a sound that is still unparalleled.

I often think of him as a man before his time. In his songs, especially on the album “What’s Going On” he was speaking about natural disasters, climate change, pollution, police brutality, and the state of the Black community. His music transcended time. When you listen to his music, you realize that not much has changed since 1971 when the album, “What’s Going On” first landed on the scene. I admire the work of Marvin Gaye, because during his lifetime he used his musical platform to spread messages of hope and peace to the world.

There is so much that I can say about the album creatively. Each song flows perfectly into the next and the album becomes a compilation that is one piece. However, my favorite song on the album is “What’s Happening Brother”. It chronicles the return of an African American man from the Vietnam War. It talks of not being able to find work, money being tight and a solider that wants to know “what’s in”.  This song resonates with me because musically Marvin creates the perfect picture for us to understand the plight of this soldier. We empathize with him because we as the listener understand that this man is desperate to find normalcy after being traumatized. Recently, a video of an African American man who works for the fast-food chain KFC went viral, after he testified that after serving his country he simply couldn’t survive and support his family. It lets me know that there is work to be done.


Have a great weekend. Let us know what you’re reading in the comments below!



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