Resources for Understanding and Engaging with Afrofuturism
Posted on in DEIA Resource Lists
With the fall semester right around the corner, those looking to round out their summer reading lists with some final book suggestions need look no further. Toward Inclusive Excellence has compiled the following list of titles focused on social and racial justice and written by, or featuring essays by, guests of the TIE Podcast. This wide array covers such diverse topics as the racial wealth gap, the role that urban universities play in gentrifying cities, and free Black women in 19th-century America, among others. Readers can also become reacquainted with each guest’s original TIE Podcast episode, all of which are featured below.
In the debut “summer session” episode of the TIE Podcast, TIE editor in chief Alexia Hudson-Ward speaks with Steven S. Rogers, retired Harvard Business School MBA Class of 1957 Senior Lecturer of Business Administration, and author of A Letter to My White Friends and Colleagues: What You Can Do Right Now to Help the Black Community (Wiley, 2021). Rogers’ book is informed by his work at Harvard Business School, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and his own experiences as a Black person. He explores the wealth disparity between Black and white Americans and how we can all work to close the wealth gap. In this episode you’ll gain a greater understanding of the root causes of racial wealth inequity, why Rogers believes that Black people should receive reparations from the United States Government, and hear recommendations for how you can direct your spending to support a more equitable financial system.
In this “fall semester” episode, Dr. Martha S. Jones joins the program to discuss her book, Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All. Alexia Hudson-Ward, podcast host and editor in chief of Toward Inclusive Excellence, chats with Martha about the banning of Vanguard in Lafayette, Louisiana, and, in response, the support she received from colleagues, fellow authors, and the American Library Association. Martha details how the ordeal revealed to her the prevalence of banned publications and strengthened her resolve for allyship between librarians, curators, archivists, and educators in the battle for Civil Rights and democratized access to knowledge. The conversation also includes Martha’s goals for Vanguard and overall research on how Black Americans shape American democracy. Last, Martha digs into the historian’s role of pulling apart established myths of the past—like the long-held narrative that the campaign for women’s suffrage began in Seneca Falls, NY and ended with the 19th amendment in 1920.
For this episode of TIE’s spring semester series, Kaija Langley, author of children’s book When Langston Dances, joins Toward Inclusive Excellence editor in chief Alexia Hudson-Ward to discuss diversity in children’s literature. In the episode, Kaija describes her journey to becoming an NAACP Image Award–nominated author, including the mentorship, inspiration, and kismet she encountered along the way. In addition, Kaija and Alexia look back at the books available to Black children, noting the lack of options and variation in subject matter. Though Kaija notes the strides children’s publishing has made over the decades, she highlights the need for children’s books to celebrate and showcase Black humanity—kids just being kids—and not restrict options to historical or one-dimensional texts. Finally, Kaija offers advice for aspiring children’s literature authors: know your audience (including the adults!), join the KidLit community, and tap into your inner child.
In this summer session episode, Dr. Rasul Mowatt, head of the department of parks, recreation, and tourism management at North Carolina State University, joins Toward Inclusive Excellence editor in chief Alexia Hudson-Ward to provide a DEIA perspective to leisure studies. In the conversation, Rasul describes the personal and professional path toward his research, which sits at the intersection between nature, leisure, and race. In particular, he highlights how his decision-making in previous city government roles centered social justice; essentially, understanding the oppression or injustices affecting a community leads to programs that better serve constituents and address root issues. Further, Rasul parses out how race impacts the occupancy of nature spaces, surfacing topics like policing, private property, and the development of public parks. Alexia and Rasul also discuss cultural memory, paying particular attention to signage, statues, and memorials in public places. To close, Rasul shares his recommendations for summer leisure, including travel for the sake of history—no park, bus stop, or sign is too small for exploration and understanding for the past.
In this episode from TIE’s fall semester series, Dr. Davarian L. Baldwin, Trinity College’s Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies, reveals how universities practice aggressive real estate, low-wage employment, and campus policing tactics that result in gentrification, higher taxes, and inequitable healthcare and other amenities for residents—especially communities of color. Joined by Toward Inclusive Excellence editor in chief Alexia Hudson-Ward, Davarian defines terms from his recent title, In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities are Plundering Our Cities, such as “UniverCities” and “bright flight,” explaining their relationship to university and city leaders’ joint efforts to keep educated, white collar professionals in urban areas. Finally, Davarian highlights actionable solutions like affordable housing mandates, food donations, and community benefit agreements in addition to his ongoing advocacy work. In this conversation, Davarian underscores how Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies on campus must go beyond diversifying faculty or curricula to account for how universities themselves play a role in destructive practices against communities of color.
In this Toward Inclusive Excellence spring semester episode, we’re joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David Hackett Fischer to discuss his latest title, African Founders: How Enslaved People Expanded American Ideals. TIE editor-in-chief Alexia Hudson-Ward chats with David on the writing process of this monumental text, which demonstrates how African influences in early America created a new, distinct American culture. David walks through his extensive travel to regions in America and Africa, in addition to his rigorous archival research of narratives by enslaved people collected in the 18th and 19th centuries. Throughout the conversation, David underscores the importance of diversity in American culture, highlighting the need to celebrate our differences and listen to—and learn from—our forebearers. David and Alexia also explore key takeaways from the book, the unique qualities of early American regions, and the significance of including African-American abolitionist Absalom Jones on the book cover.
In this spring semester episode, Dr. Tamika Nunley, Associate Professor and Sandler Family Faculty Fellow at Cornell University, discusses her recent book, At the Threshold of Liberty: Women, Slavery, and Shifting Identities in Washington, D.C. In conversation with Alexia Hudson-Ward, editor-in-chief of Toward Inclusive Excellence, Tamika explores the various livelihoods and everyday struggles of Black women in the Washington D.C. area during the 19th century. Tamika reaches beyond the heroic narratives often highlighted during that time—the educated, philanthropists, civil rights leaders—to humanize and bring forth stories of Black women pursuing sex work, gambling, or illegal pursuits in the name of survival and forging their own liberties. In addition, she describes the documents she used to piece these narratives together, often pulling from accounts of First Ladies and police precinct records to reveal Black women and children in the archive. Further, Tamika underscores how Black women defined liberty for themselves, creating their own versions of freedom under a government that did not grant it. To close, Tamika offers a look into her forthcoming book, The Demands of Justice: Enslaved Women, Capital Crime, and Clemency in Early Virginia, and how writing the title during the early pandemic and George Floyd protests of 2020 inspired and influenced her work.
In this spring semester episode, Dr. Fredara Hadley, Ethnomusicology Professor in Department of Music History at The Juilliard School, discusses her work as an ethnomusicologist with Toward Inclusive Excellence editor-in-chief Alexia Hudson-Ward. Fredara first outlines her educational path and defines ethnomusicology as the study of music as culture. She also digs into her research on the musical legacies and impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities by tracing her family’s history with HBCUs and how these institutions act as “important islands of refuge for young Black people.” Fredara explains how the majority of HBCUs emerged during the Reconstruction era in order to segregate university education; however, they have evolved into critical spaces to nurture and support young Black scholars despite threats of closure and continuous underfunding. Next, Fredara chats about the life and impact of Shirley Graham Du Bois, an important musical figure, political force, and world traveler. Married to sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois, she was a key playwright and composer who expanded scholarship in African diaspora studies. Highlighting her work in Ghana as a diplomat and director of Ghana’s first television network, Alexia and Fredara spotlight her fascinating life and theorize why she remains a hidden figure. Last, Fredara closes with her upcoming projects, including a book on HBCU musical legacies that advocates for a subfield of HBCU music studies.
Toward Inclusive Excellence‘s latest podcast episode features another “In Dialogue” session, which brings together prominent scholars, library leaders, and higher education stakeholders to discuss a timely topic. In time for the end of their tenures, ALA’s 2022-23 President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada and ACRL’s 2022-23 President Erin L. Ellis sit down with Toward Inclusive Excellence editor-in-chief Alexia Hudson-Ward to discuss the associations’ challenges and successes of the past year. Lessa and Erin detail how each organization worked to address the surge in book bans and attacks on librarianship affecting both public and academic libraries. Further, the guests underscore the strength and power of the library community, highlighting how support can come in many forms, whether through direct advocacy or behind-the-scenes encouragement. In addition, Lessa and Erin explain the importance of self-care as leaders and library workers, and share their own perspectives on the continuous lack of compositional diversity in librarianship—and what can be done to dispel toxic workplace culture and to advance inclusive practices and pipelines. This enlightening discussion brings together library leaders to explore the issues affecting libraries today, and the overlap and community found between the academic and public library spaces.
In this summer session episode, Toward Inclusive Excellence editor-in-chief Alexia Hudson-Ward sits down with Danielle Terrazas Williams, associate professor of history at the University of Leeds and author of The Capital of Free Women: Race, Legitimacy, and Liberty in Colonial Mexico. Based on her archival research spanning many years and several countries, the title brings forward the stories of free women of African descent in Colonial Mexico and Spanish America. Danielle reviews her exploration of a variety of archives—notarial materials, parish or church records, Mexican national archives—to piece together these Black women’s lives and stories. As Danielle explains, she hopes the title will highlight the long legacy of Black people living in Mexico, therefore disrupting the narrative of Mexicans being primarily of Spanish and Indigenous descent. She discusses the barriers faced when engaging in this course correction, and praises the work of librarians and archivists, particularly those in Mexico who face budgetary and staff challenges.
Interested in contributing to TIE? Send an email to Deb V. at Choice email@example.com with your topic idea.
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Header image is a detail of This is Harlem by Jacob Lawrence. Courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. © 2021 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. For more information, click here.
Posted on in DEIA Resource Lists
Posted on in DEIA Resource Lists
Posted on in DEIA Resource Lists
Posted on in DEIA Resource Lists