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Diversity and Inclusion Book Club

The Office of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity hosts a Diversity and Inclusion Book Club throughout the year to stimulate discussions on diversity, equality, and inclusion.  Participation is fluid to account for varying schedules and subject matter interests.  The book club is open to all students, staff, and faculty.

Prior to each discussion, our office holds a random drawing to give away 5 free copies of the upcoming selection; a link will be sent out by email to enter the drawing. You are encouraged to attend even if you do not have the opportunity to finish the book prior to the discussion.

BOOK SUMMARY  REGISTER TO WIN A COPY  DISCUSSION DATE

Being Mortal book cover

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

In Being Mortal, best-selling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. 

Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering. 

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified. 

September 2, 2021

October 14, 2021, 12:00 – 1:00pm CDT

Via Zoom

 

Sitting pretty book cover, red background, white female in wheelchair featured

Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig

Growing up as a paralyzed girl during the '90s and early 2000s, Rebekah Taussig only saw disability depicted as something monstrous (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), inspirational (Helen Keller), or angelic (Forrest Gump). None of this felt right; and as she got older, she longed for more stories that allowed disability to be complex and ordinary, uncomfortable and fine, painful and fulfilling.

Writing about the rhythms and textures of what it means to live in a body that doesn’t fit, Rebekah reflects on everything from the complications of kindness and charity, living both independently and dependently, experiencing intimacy, and how the pervasiveness of ableism in our everyday media directly translates to everyday life.

Disability affects all of us, directly or indirectly, at one point or another. By exploring this truth in poignant and lyrical essays, Taussig illustrates the need for more stories and more voices to understand the diversity of humanity. 

October 21, 2020

December 9, 2021, 12:00 – 1:00pm CDT

Via Zoom

 

Caste book cover - black and white background

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

“As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power—which groups have it and which do not.”
 
In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
 
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

January 10, 2022

February 24, 2022, 12:00 – 1:00pm CDT

Via Zoom

 

what we don't talk about when we talk about fat book cover white writing red background

What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon

 

Anti-fatness is everywhere. In What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat, Aubrey Gordon unearths the cultural attitudes and social systems that have led to people being denied basic needs because they are fat and calls for social justice movements to be inclusive of plus-sized people’s experiences. Unlike the recent wave of memoirs and quasi self-help books that encourage readers to love and accept themselves, Gordon pushes the discussion further towards authentic fat activism, which includes ending legal weight discrimination, giving equal access to health care for large people, increased access to public spaces, and ending anti-fat violence. As she argues, “I did not come to body positivity for self-esteem. I came to it for social justice.”

By sharing her experiences as well as those of others—from smaller fat to very fat people—she concludes that to be fat in our society is to be seen as an undeniable failure, unlovable, unforgivable, and morally condemnable. Fatness is an open invitation for others to express disgust, fear, and insidious concern. To be fat is to be denied humanity and empathy. Studies show that fat survivors of sexual assault are less likely to be believed and less likely than their thin counterparts to report various crimes; 27% of very fat women and 13% of very fat men attempt suicide; over 50% of doctors describe their fat patients as “awkward, unattractive, ugly and noncompliant”; and in 48 states, it’s legal—even routine—to deny employment because of an applicant’s size.

March 7, 2022

April 14, 2022, 12:00 – 1:00pm CDT

Via Zoom

can everyone please calm down book cover neon blue and yellow writing

Can Everyone Please Calm Down? by Mae Martin

Why do we find sexuality so, well…scary? Comedian Mae Martin investigates in this hilarious and intelligent guide to 21st century sexuality. Covering everything from the pros and cons of labels, to coming out and the joys of sexual fluidity, Mae ponders all the stuff we get hung up about – and then a bit more.

Mae’s mission is to ensure that in a world that’s full of things to worry about, who we choose to kiss should not be one of them. And when it comes to sexuality, she asks: can everyone please calm down?
April 25, 2022

May 26, 2021, 12:00 – 1:00pm CDT

Via Zoom

Last Published: Aug 31, 2021