Below are the books, articles and videos that were involved in our Book Club discussions for 2020

April

Our April session discussed  The Tradition by Jericho Brown.

Jericho Brown’s daring new book The Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown’s poetic concerns are both broad and intimate, and at their very core a distillation of the incredibly human: What is safety? Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? Brown makes mythical pastorals to question the terrors to which we’ve become accustomed, and to celebrate how we survive. Poems of fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship, and trauma are propelled into stunning clarity by Brown’s mastery, and his invention of the duplex–a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues–is testament to his formal skill. The Tradition is a cutting and necessary collection, relentless in its quest for survival while reveling in a celebration of contradiction.

March

Our session for March took place March 4, at 6:00 p.m. and we discussed Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller.

Universally acclaimed, rapturously reviewed, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography, and an instant New York Times bestseller, Chanel Miller’s breathtaking memoir “gives readers the privilege of knowing her not just as Emily Doe, but as Chanel Miller the writer, the artist, the survivor, the fighter.” (The Wrap).

We are please to be partnering with Millersville University for this discussion.

February

Our February session discussed 2 articles from the New York Times 1619 Project:

America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One – The New York Times

Why Doesn’t America Have Universal Health Care? One Word: Race – The New York Times

The 1619 Project began in August 2019 as an ongoing initiative from New York Times Magazine. This project recognizes the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. We cannot reframe or disregard 1619 as our nation’s birth year. The enslavement of Africans in American created a barbaric system of chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. These special issue of The New York Times Magazine contains essays on different aspects of contemporary American life, from mass incarceration to rush-hour traffic, that have their roots in slavery and its aftermath. Each essay takes up a modern phenomenon, familiar to all, and reveals its history.

Please note: Our book club will conclude at 7 p.m. so that we can join LancasterHistory on their virtual lecture “Down Along with That Devil’s Bones,” with journalist Connor Towne O’Neill. They will be discussing his book, Down Along with That Devil’s Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy, a deep dive into American history, exposing the still-raging battles over monuments dedicated to one of the most notorious Confederate generals, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

December and January

Our December and January sessions discussed How to be an Antiracist by Imbram X. Kendi

From Ibram X Kendi’s website:

Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Instead of working with the policies and system we have in place, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.

In his memoir, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science–including the story of his own awakening to antiracism–bringing it all together in a cogent, accessible form. He begins by helping us rethink our most deeply held, if implicit, beliefs and our most intimate personal relationships (including beliefs about race and IQ and interracial social relations) and reexamines the policies and larger social arrangements we support. How to Be an Antiracist promises to become an essential book for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.

This was a two part series:

  • Part 1, suggested chapters: My Racist Introduction- Behavior
  • Part 2, suggested chapters: Culture – Survival

Get the book here: https://bookshop.org/books/how-to-be-an-antiracist/9780525509288

November

Our next session was on November 12 at 6:00 p.m. and our topic was Hear Our Voice: Elevating, Restoring, and Rejuvenating

Looking for a collective space to decompress? Then, this event is for you. Sit back for an enriching evening to witness local greatness in performative arts. In collaboration with the Executive Director of Disrupt Theatre, Starleisha Gingrich, will highlight rising voices feeding the soul of the social justice movement. Bear witness, feel, and release. This collective space is exclusively for women, femmes and non-binary folks who are Black/Brown. Featured artist will share their voice, followed by an open space for viewers to share their work.

Audre Lourde Interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4rDL-xZ8N0

The New York Times Culture Issue
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/07/magazine/black-futures.html

EN POINTE: Black Dancers, Black History
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER_ZbijB6Rw

October

Our session was set for October 15 at 6:00 p.m. and we will be discussed Ghost River 

About Ghost River:

Written by Lee Francis 4 (Sixkiller, Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers), illustrated by the incomparable Weshoyot Alvitre (Deer Woman: An Anthology, Sixkiller) and edited by Will Fenton (The Library Company of Philadelphia), this new graphic novel from Red Planet Books and Comics chronicles the last days of the Conestoga People and brings their story to light; a story of despair and hope, loss and love, ancestors and the ghosts of history that are always with us.

Get the online version for free

Here is a supplemental podcast interview with the author

September

Our next session is set for September 17 at 6:00 p.m.

Nice White Parents podcast: a five part series

“How White Progressives Undermine School Integration” from NYT

August

The book we discussed was  Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

We were also joined by Alex Domingos, ACLU-PA Organizer for Smart Justice.

We were also joined by David Garlock, a client of Bryan Stevenson, whose life is featured in the new film “Just Mercy” (Jan. 10), David has been able to have a different view of Bryan for the past 12 years. David is a frequent speaker at colleges and universities, criminal and social justice conferences, and community events. He also has a cameo in the movie Just Mercy about Bryan Stevenson. David resides in Coatesville, PA with his wife, where they are dedicated to serving with their local church, Freedom Life.

A powerful true story about the Equal Justice Initiative, the people they represent, and the importance of confronting injustice, Just Mercy is a bestselling book by Bryan Stevenson that has been adapted into a feature film.

Plus…for additional discussion is this interview with Bryan Stevenson about The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a new museum and memorial created by the Equal Justice Initiative.

June

Our session is set for this Thursday, June 18 at 6:00 p.m. and for June we will be celebrating Pride Month and we will be reading Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Riviera.

Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Along with our discussion of this lively story, we will be reviewing Ericka Hart’s speech “Who Are You Here For” from the 2017 Women’s March in Philadelphia, and following up with a discussion of the history of Pride, and why Trans lives matter, and specifically why Black Trans lives matter.

The following are links to Ericka’s speech and a podcast episode that we believe will aid the discussion.

May

For May we focused on the four pieces below and discussing how COVID-19 is affecting populations along racial, ethnic, and gender lines.

The Black Plague Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Why COVID-19 Hits Black America Hardest Slate’sWhat Next

Native Americans Fight Multiple COVID-19 Crises N. Jamiyla Chisholm

When xenophobia spreads like a virus NPR’s Codeswitch

April

Wasted Pretty, by Jamie Beth Cohen

Wasted Pretty is a beautiful, touching novel that I wish I had when I was all of the things Alice Burton was: a fierce, strong teenager learning how to navigate her changing body, developing heart, and powerful mind.” –Mayim Bialik, Big Bang Theory, Blossom, and founder of Grok Nation

During junior year of high school, star student and stellar lacrosse player Alice Burton grew four inches, and, thanks to her mom’s experimental health food products, shed twenty pounds. Alice has mixed feelings about her surprising transformation.

On the plus side: Chris Thompson, the hot college guy she has a crush on, talks to her.

On the minus side: Her dad’s creepy friend, professional athlete Karl Bell, lets his eyes, and his hugs, linger too long.

After a disturbing encounter in a dark hallway, Alice realizes the response some men have to her new body isn’t just disgusting, it’s dangerous. Her life is further complicated by her parents’ crumbling finances and the family’s entanglement with Karl.

Set in Pittsburgh in 1992, Wasted Pretty is about a girl determined to protect her body, her future, and her heart.

Plus – here are some other articles that are good for discussions:

The true story that inspired parts of WASTED PRETTY: http://www.ozy.com/true-story/i-was-sexually-harassed-by-a-baseball-star-when-i-was-16/80941

(And this is me telling that story live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhfzBOMX50M)

A Letter To My Teenage Self: https://www.storytimeteen.com/post/letter-to-my-teen-self-jamie-beth-cohen

The story of my sexual assault as a child and how it shapes my parenting: https://motherwellmag.com/2017/10/27/how-to-protect-our-children-from-victim-blaming/

March

This is a 2018 non-fiction book written by Robin DiAngelo.

The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.

In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’ (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.