Reckoning with Racism course website

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Tuesdays, 1:00-2:30 p.m. 6-week course begins 11/10

Susan Bowditch
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Sonia St. Pierre – Email:


I am looking forward to seeing each of you in my course on Zoom, and hearing what you have to say about racism, as well as what questions you may want to discuss.  Although, I have researched a great deal, I am not an expert, and many of you are already well read and knowledgeable on the issue.  Among us, hopefully we can find common meanings for important concepts, ways to understand racism– especially from those who are experiencing it, and possible directions forward, with respect to personal and systemic racism.

I selected four books that were recently on the New York Times non-fiction best seller list.  (Incidentally, one week in July, all of the books on the NYT non-fiction book reviews were related to racism!)  You are not required to read any or all of them, but I suggested them as potential background to our discussions.  Although I had no intention of choosing books that were written only by women, that inadvertently became the reality.  And they are all of African descent, but distinguished as women in different ways.

Me and White Supremacy:  Combat Racism, Change the World, and become a Good ancestor is by Layla F. Saad.  Layla is a combination of East African, Arab, and British, a Muslim Black woman who lives in Qatar.
So You Want to Talk about Race is by Ijeoma Oluo, who identifies as a Black, queer, middle class woman who grew up in poverty with a single white mother in the US.  Her father is from Nigeria, West Africa.

I’m Still Here:  Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness is by Austin Channing Brown.  An African American woman, whose parents decided to outwit everyone by giving her a white man’s name.

The Origin of Others is by the late Toni Morrison.  Toni, one of our foremost novelists, and Professor Emeritus at Princeton, chose to avoid the white gaze and write honestly about Blacks in America.

The format of the class will not be rigid, although I expect to have an informal outline each week.   I want everyone to have an opportunity to speak at least once per class. At the first class I will speak initially for a few minutes,  just to make sure we are all on the same page about the history, and some of the terms.  We may or may not talk about any of the books directly, but I am most interested in your particular viewpoint, where it is coming from, and where you see it going.  Each book is both personal and political, so if any or all of the books help you on that journey, then more power to you.

We will be meeting for the first time in almost exactly three weeks from today, from 1:00pm to 2:30pm, on Tuesday, November 10.  Our host will be Sonia St. Pierre, who will be sending you the live link and handling Zoom technicalities.  We may or may not know the outcome of the United States presidential race by then, but there is no doubt that it will be on our minds either way.  Race has become an even bigger issue this year, with Covid 19 and subsequent negative outcomes for many Blacks, the police killing of George Floyd, and the protests that continue to follow those tragic events.

As it turns out, I know about half of you from other courses, and the other half I have not met.  Either way, I welcome you all and look forward to what you have to say!

Best wishes and stay healthy,
Susan Bowditch