This month’s club was in partnership with “What the Health?” Book Club!
“Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We ‘Catch’ Mental Illness” by Harriet A. Washington
In April, we partnered with our Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center for Sexual Assault Awareness Month!
From the founder and activist behind one of the largest movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the “me too” movement, Tarana Burke debuts a powerful memoir about her own journey to saying those two simple yet infinitely powerful words―me too―and how she brought empathy back to an entire generation in one of the largest cultural events in American history.
For the month of March the YWCA Lancaster and Patients R Waiting are came together to bring March’s “What the Health?” book “Hunger” by Roxane Gay.
We will host our next Social Justice Club meeting on February 11th. During this hybrid event we discussed High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America, a Netflix series featuring two local chefs. This event included a meal from two Lancaster chefs as they detail their cuisine and how it ties back to their family upbringing and the Black culture. High on the Hog, available on Netflix, was the encouraged pre-viewing film that was discussed during the evening.
“American cuisine as we know and love it would simply not exist without the innumerable contributions of African Americans, past and present.”
During our December session we discussed Misogynoir Transformed: Black Women’s Digital Resistance by Moya Bailey.
When Moya Bailey first coined the term “misogynoir,” she defined it as the ways anti-Black and misogynistic representation shape broader ideas about Black women, particularly in visual culture and digital spaces. She had no idea that the term would go viral, touching a cultural nerve and quickly entering into the lexicon.
At a time when Black women are depicted as more ugly, deficient, hypersexual, and unhealthy than their non-Black counterparts, Bailey explores how Black women have bravely used social-media platforms to confront misogynoir in a number of courageous—and, most importantly, effective—ways. Focusing on queer and trans Black women, she shows us the importance of carving out digital spaces, where communities are built around queer Black webshows and hashtags like #GirlsLikeUs.
We are proud to have partnered with Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. for December’s discussion!
Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man by Emmanuel Acho.
“You cannot fix a problem you do not know you have.”
In Emmanuel Acho’s essential guide to the truths Americans need to know to address the systemic racism that has recently electrified protests in all fifty states. “There is a fix,” Acho says. “But in order to access it, we’re going to have to have some uncomfortable conversations.”
In Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, Acho takes on all the questions, large and small, insensitive and taboo, many white Americans are afraid to ask—yet which all Americans need the answers to, now more than ever.
We discussed the vital core of such fraught concepts as white privilege, cultural appropriation, and “reverse racism.”
This episode, we will learn about the connection between anti-Blackness and sexual violence. Dismantling anti-Blackness in our ourselves, our workplaces, and our communities is a key part of preventing sexual violence, providing services that are culturally humble for survivors, and supporting Black staff within our own organizations. A transcript of the show can be found here
PA Centered, a podcast designed to help listeners be a part of the solution to end sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. Each episode, we will take on a topic or current event to help spark conversation and break down barriers to building communities free from sexual violence.
This event is part of YWCA USA’s yearly Week Without Violence
About La Brega
La Brega: Stories of the Puerto Rican Experience
A co-production from WNYC Studios and Futuro Studios
A seven-part podcast series that uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico. Available in English and Spanish.
Created by a team of Puerto Rican journalists, producers, musicians, and artists from the island and diaspora; hosted by On the Media’s Alana Casanova-Burgess.
Our August session was on August 26th at 6:00 p.m. and we discussed If I Go Missing by Brianna Jonnie with Nahanni Shingoose.
We were joined by Lee Francis 4, owner of red Planet books- the only indigenous owned comic bookstore on the planet, and Neal Shannacappo the book’s illustrator.
About the book:
Combining graphic fiction and non-fiction, this young adult graphic novel serves as a window into one of the unique dangers of being an Indigenous teen in Canada today.
The text of the book is derived from excerpts of a letter written to the Winnipeg Chief of Police by fourteen-year-old Brianna Jonnie — a letter that went viral and was also the basis of a documentary film. In her letter, Jonnie calls out the authorities for neglecting to immediately investigate missing Indigenous people and urges them to “not treat me as the Indigenous person I am proud to be,” if she were to be reported missing.
Indigenous artist Neal Shannacappo provides the artwork for the book. Through his illustrations he imagines a situation in which a young Indigenous woman does disappear, portraying the reaction of her community, her friends, the police and media.
An author’s note at the end of the book provides context for young readers about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.
Our June session was on June 17 at 6:00 p.m. and we discussed Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown.
How do we make social justice the most pleasurable human experience? How can we awaken within ourselves desires that make it impossible to settle for anything less than a fulfilling life? Author and editor adrienne maree brown finds the answer in something she calls “pleasure activism,” a politics of healing and happiness that explodes the dour myth that changing the world is just another form of work. Drawing on the black feminist tradition, she challenges us to rethink the ground rules of activism.
Lancaster Public Library is a proud co-host of the Dorothy Height Book Club
To keep everyone safe…the Book Club will be going virtual – via Zoom
Our next session is set for May 20 at 6:00 p.m. and we will be discussing Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon
In Beyond the Gender Binary, poet, artist, and LGBTQIA+ rights advocate Alok Vaid-Menon deconstructs, demystifies, and reimagines the gender binary.
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.
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.
Our February session discussed 2 articles from the New York Times 1619 Project:
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
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
The New York Times Culture Issue
EN POINTE: Black Dancers, Black History
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.
Our next session is set for September 17 at 6:00 p.m.
Nice White Parents podcast: a five part series
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.
Here is the list of readings, with links.
“What to the Slave is the 4th of July” read by James Earl Jones
“As a Black American I don’t Celebrate the 4th of July” by Arielle Gray
“Let America be America Again” by Langston Hughes (pictured right)
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.
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
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/
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.