Placitas Reads: Color, Class, and Caste: The Other Social Distancing

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Upcoming Events

Most Placitas Reads events will occur on the third Saturday of each month at 2 PM. 

Laguna and Zuni Programs Education Albuquerque
Jon Ghahate, Museum Cultural Educator at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque

Jon Ghahate in conversation with Shara Moscinska

Saturday, October 16 at 2 p.m.

Join us to welcome Jon Ghahate to our October 16 program. Jon is a Placitas resident and educator at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Together, Shara Moscinska and Jon will provide a forum to learn about how the concept of Caste may be interpreted by Native communities. The program will include an interview-like discussion. Please join us for this unique and enriching event on Saturday, October 16 at 2 p.m. via the Zoom link below.

Advance registration is required.

Read Shara Moscinska’s conversation with Jon Ghahate.

About the Program

A series of conversations on issues of race, class, and systemic divisions in our culture and community

Author Dr. Isabel Wilkerson Headshot
Dr. Isabel Wilkerson

The current situation in the world, especially in the United States, gives us great cause to consider how we came to be here.  The pandemic has exacerbated and laid bare problems and issues that have been embedded in our country since its earliest days.  The fact that many of us don’t know or understand this history has allowed these issues to fester.

In 2021, Placitas Comunity Library Adult Programs presents the Placitas Reads program. The theme: “Color, Class and Caste: The Other Social Distancing.” It’s like a book club for the entire community. 

From May through October 2021, the library is holding a series of events and conversations around the issues in the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Dr. Isabel Wilkerson.

Learn more about the program. 

For Reference

Dive deeper into Caste and learn more about the issues Dr. Wilkerson discusses in the book.

MONTHLY FEATURED RESOURCES

Each month PCL will highlight resources from our large Color, Class, and Caste resource list, which coordinate with the major themes presented in that month’s Placitas Reads programs.

May Featured Listings 

Join us Saturday, May 15 at 2 p.m.

Themes for May

  • Orientation to Color, Class, and Caste: The Other Social Distancing and the benefits of a Community Read
  • Video intro to some of the concepts in Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
    • Dr. Wilkerson in conversation with Oprah Winfrey and Ken Burns
    • American History

Films 

Kens Burns—The Civil War Miniseries from PBS—nine-part series

The Civil War is a 1990 American television documentary miniseries created by Ken Burns about the American Civil War. It was the first broadcast to air on PBS for five consecutive nights, from September 23 to 27, 1990.

  • Available on DVD to check out from PCL

On Kanopy through PCL for streaming—just register with your library card number

Readings

1619 Project—NYT (available at PCL)—pick yours up NOW for free at the Library during any ‘open hours’

 The 1619 Project’ is a long-form journalism project developed by Nikole Hannah-Jones, writers from The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine which “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States‘ national narrative

White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for White People to Talk about Racism—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.

  • Available for check out at PCL

Interviews

Oprah and Isabel Wilkerson—CBS

Isabel Wilkerson and Kens Burnshttps://www.pbs.org/kenburns/unum/playlist/wilkerson-burns Join two of our country’s most accomplished storytellers, Ken Burns and Isabel Wilkerson, as they discuss the complexities of the American narrative and how grappling with the past might lead us forward.

 

June Featured Listings

Join us Saturday, June 19 at 2 p.m.

Themes for June—Definition of Caste. Discussion of why understanding US history accurately is vital to our progress towards a more equitable country. Discussion of the damage done to ALL by the structural racism/caste system in this country.

Films

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Also available as a book

Interviews

Isabel Wilkerson with Bryan Stevenson 

  Wilkerson will be in conversation with Bryan Stevenson, the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. He is also the author of the award-winning book Just Mercy, which was recently adapted as a major motion picture

Kanopy Documentaries

How Racism Harms White Americans

Readings

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Deacon King Kong—James McBride

The new book from author and musician James McBride is a hilarious, pitch-perfect comedy set in the Brooklyn projects of the late 1960s. This alone may qualify it as one of the year’s best novels. However, McBride has constructed a story with a deeper meaning for those who choose to read beyond the plot, one that makes the work funnier, sweeter and more profound.

SUMMARY OF CASTE: THE ORIGINS OF OUR DISCONTENTS

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.

She tells us 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, Wilkerson points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today. (From the publisher.)

RANDOM HOUSE STUDY GUIDE FOR CASTE: THE ORIGINS OF OUR DISCONTENTS BY DR. ISABEL WILKERSON

Questions and Topics for Discussion

  1. At the beginning of Caste, author Isabel Wilkerson compares American racial hierarchy to a dormant Siberian virus. What are the strengths of this metaphor? How does this comparison help combat the pervasive myth that racism has been eradicated in America?
  2. Wilkerson begins the book with an image of one lone dissenter amidst a crowd of Germans giving the Nazi salute. What would it mean—and what would it take—to be this man today?
  3. What are some of the elements required for a caste system to succeed?
  4. Wilkerson uses many different metaphors to explain and help us visualize the concept of the American caste system: the bones inside a body, the beams inside a house, even the computer program in the 1999 film The Matrix. Which of these metaphors helped the concept click for you?Why was it successful?
  5. Caste and race are not the same thing. What is the difference between the two? How do casteism and racism support each other?
  6. Discuss how class is also different from caste.
  7. Who does a caste system benefit? Who does it harm?
  8.  “Before there was a United States of America,” Wilkerson writes, “there was a caste system, born in colonial Virginia.” How can Americans reckon with this fact? What does it mean to you to live in a country whose system of discrimination was cemented before the country itself?
  9. Did learning about the lens and language of caste change the way you look at U.S. history and society? How?
  10. Wilkerson discusses three major caste systems throughout the book: India, Nazi Germany, and America. What are some of the differences that stood out to you among these three systems? What are the similarities? How did learning about one help you understand the others? For instance, did the fact that the Nazis actually studied America’s segregation practices and Jim Crow laws help underscore the breadth of our own system?
  11. Harold Hale, an African-American man, helped his daughter defy the “rules” of their caste in 1970s Texas by naming her Miss. As Wilkerson illustrates throughout the book, the dangers of being seen as defying one’s caste can range from humiliation to death. What do you think of the lengths Mr. Hale felt he needed to go to assure dignity for his daughter? What are the risks he took by doing so? Should Miss have had a say in her father’s quietly revolutionary act? Explain your thinking.
  12. Discuss the differences and similarities between how Miss was treated in the South, where racism and casteism have historically been more overt, and in the North, where they still exist, but can be more subtle. Do you think these various forms of racism and casteism must be fought in different ways?
  13. Wilkerson quotes the orator Frederick Douglass, who described the gestures that could incite white rage and violence: “in the tone of an answer; in answering at all; in not answering . . .” These contradict each other: One could incite rage by answering and by not answering. Discuss the bind that this contradiction put (and still puts) African-American people in.
  14. Wilkerson frequently uses her own experience as an African-American woman to illustrate her points regarding caste—including the experience involving the confusion when someone “rises above” his or her presumed station. What do readers gain from hearing about Wilkerson’s personal experiences in addition to her deep historical research?
  15. “Indians will ask one’s surname, the occupation of one’s father, the village one is from, the section of the village that one is from, to suss out the caste of whoever is standing in front of them,” Wilkerson writes. “They will not rest until they have uncovered the person’s rank in the social order.” How is this similar to and different from the process of determining caste in America? Have you ever, for instance, asked someone what they did for work or where they lived or went to school, and been surprised? Did you treat them differently upon hearing their answer?
  16. Analyze the process of dehumanization and how it can lead to people justifying great acts of cruelty.
  17. “Evil asks little of the dominant caste other than to sit back and do nothing,” Wilkerson writes. Whether in the dominant caste or not, what are some of the ways that each of us, personally, can stand up to the caste system? 
  18. Wilkerson gives examples that range from the horrifying (lynching) to the absurd (the Indian woman who walked across an office to ask a Dalit to pour her water from the jug next to her desk) to illustrate caste’s influence on behavior. How do both of these types of examples—and everything in between—help cement her points? Why do we need to see this range to clearly understand caste?
  19. Discuss how overt racism subtly transforms into unconscious bias. What are the ways that we can work to compensate for the unconscious biases inherent in a caste system?
  20. Wilkerson writes about the “construction of whiteness,” describing the way immigrants went from being Czech or Hungarian or Polish to “white”—a political designation that only has meaning when set against something “not white.” Irish and Italian people weren’t “white” until they came to America. What does this “construction of whiteness” tell us about the validity of racial designations and the structure of caste?
  21. It is a widely held convention that working-class white Americans may often “act against their own interests” by opposing policies designed to help the working class. Discuss how the logic of caste disproves this concept and redefines that same choice from the perspective of maintaining group dominance.
  22. How does the caste system take people who would otherwise be allies and turn them against one other?
  23. Wilkerson describes dinner with a white acquaintance who was incensed over the treatment they received from the waitstaff. Why did the acquaintance respond the way that she did, and how did it hurt or help the situation?
  24. What do we learn from Albert Einstein’s response to the American caste system upon arrival from Germany?
  25. What are some of the steps that society, and each of us, can take toward dismantling the caste system?

FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO DIG DEEPER (RESOURCE LIST)

A resource list for Placitas Reads: Color, Class, and Caste: The Other Social Distancing

Featured Title: Caste: The Origins of our Discontents

“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.”

Books for Adults

1619 Project: NYT (available at PCL) https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/497465836

 The 1619 Project’ is a long-form journalism project developed by Nikole Hannah-Jones, writers from The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine which “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative

 

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together–Heather McGee    https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/499721732

One of today’s most insightful and influential thinkers offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone—not just for people of color.

 

How to be an Anti-Racist—Ibram X. Kendi   https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/431898612

 From the National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a “groundbreaking” (Time) approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society—and in ourselves.

 

Why it’s so hard for White People to Talk about Racism—Robin Diangelo https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/386284186

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.

 

Walking with the Wind; A Memoir of the Movement—James Lewis  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/443626737

An award-winning national bestseller, Walking with the Wind is one of our most important records of the American Civil Rights Movement. Told by John Lewis, who Cornel West calls a “national treasure,” this is a gripping first-hand account of the fight for civil rights and the courage it takes to change a nation.

 

Deacon King Kong—James McBride  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/431898528

The new book from author and musician James McBride, is a hilarious, pitch-perfect comedy set in the Brooklyn projects of the late 1960s. This alone may qualify it as one of the year’s best novels. However, McBride has constructed a story with a deeper meaning for those who choose to read beyond the plot, one that makes the work funnier, sweeter and more profound.

 

Between the World and Me—Ta Nehisi Coates   Print:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/241285712        Overdrive Audio Book:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/253935114

Between the World and Me  is written as a letter to the author’s teenage son about the feelings, symbolism, and realities associated with being Black in the United States. Coates recapitulates American history and explains to his son the “racist violence that has been woven into American culture.

 

Warmth of other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration—Isabel Wilkerson  Print:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/140986038  Overdrive eBook: https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/463266320

Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

 

I’m not Dying with you Tonight- Kimberley Jones and Gilly Segal  Print: https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/431227840  Overdrive eBook:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/492669151

I’m Not Dying with You Tonight follows two teen girls―one black, one white―who have to confront their own assumptions about racial inequality as they rely on each other to get through the violent race riot that has set their city on fire with civil unrest.

 

Night Watchman—Louise Erdrich  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/426868708

Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C., this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.

 

Home Going—Yaa Gyasi   Print:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/268606014    Overdrive eBook:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/463256974

Ghana, eighteenth century: two half-sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery. 

One of Oprah’s Best Books of the Year and a PEN/Hemingway award winner, Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.

 

Their Eyes were Watching God—Zora Neale Hurston    Print:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/71503990  Audiobook:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/71535128  Overdrive eBook:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/463258942  Overdrive Audio Book:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/356789720  Film:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/97277950

“A deeply soulful novel that comprehends love and cruelty, and separates the big people from the small of heart, without ever losing sympathy for those unfortunates who don’t know how to live properly.” —Zadie Smith

One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature

 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian—Sherman Alexi  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/71536742

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

 

Just Mercy; a Story of Justice and Redemption—Bryan Stevenson 

Print:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/462869802  Overdrive eBook:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/463259284   Overdrive Audio Book:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/356789966  Film:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/437020788

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice. (Also available as a feature film.)

 

Kanopy documentaries—These are available free through your PCL library card. Access the Kanopy link on the PCL website, register with your library card number and enjoy thousands of documentaries and foreign films.

Tim Wise: On White Privilege

The Talk: Race in America

The Uncomfortable Truth

How Racism Harms White Americans

American Denial

White Like Me

 

Recommended Films

The bolded films are available at the library.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age (Bryan Stevenson), a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice. (Also available as a book.)

Selma is a 2014 historical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches initiated and directed by James Bevel and led by Martin Luther King Jr., Hosea Williams, and John Lewis. The film stars actors David Oyelowo as King, Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Tim Roth as George Wallace, Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, and Common as Bevel.   Selma:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/220631178

Green Book is a 2018 American biographical comedy-drama buddy film directed by Peter Farrelly. Set in 1962, the film is inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by African American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley and Italian American bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga who served as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard. The film was written by Farrelly, Brian Hayes Currie and Vallelonga’s son, Nick Vallelonga, based on interviews with his father and Shirley, as well as letters his father wrote to his mother.[Green book: https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/382180710

Birth of a Nation—available on Youtube– originally called The Clansman,[5] is a 1915 American silent drama film directed by D. W. Griffith and starring Lillian Gish. The screenplay is adapted from Thomas Dixon Jr.’s 1905 novel and play The Clansman. Griffith co-wrote the screenplay with Frank E. Woods and produced the film with Harry Aitken. The film was controversial even before its release and has remained so ever since; it has been called “the most controversial film ever made in the United States”. Lincoln is portrayed positively, unusual for a narrative that promotes the Lost Cause ideology. The film portrays African Americans (many of whom are played by white actors in blackface) as unintelligent and sexually aggressive toward white women. The film presents the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) as a heroic force necessary to preserve American values and a white supremacist social order.[12][13]

Black Klansman is a 2018 American biographical black comedy crime film directed by Spike Lee and written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Lee, based on the 2014 memoir Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth. The film stars John David Washington as Stallworth, along with Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, and Topher Grace. Set in the 1970s in Colorado Springs, the plot follows the first African-American detective in the city’s police department as he sets out to infiltrate and expose the local Ku Klux Klan chapter.  Black Klansman:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/382182728

United States v Billie Holiday –(Netflix)-  is a 2021 American biographical film about singer Billie Holiday, based on the book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari. Directed by Lee Daniels, the film stars Andra Day in the titular role, along with Trevante Rhodes, Natasha Lyonne and Garrett Hedlund.Initially set to be theatrically released by Paramount Pictures, the film was sold to Hulu in December 2020, and digitally released in the United States on February 26, 2021. The United States vs. Billie Holiday received mixed reviews from critics, who praised Day’s performance but criticized the direction and screenplay as unfocused. At the 78th Golden Globe Awards, it won Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama (Day), and was also nominated for Best Original Song (“Tigress and Tweed”).

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross—PBS is a six-part documentary miniseries written and presented by Henry Louis Gates Jr. It aired for the first time on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the fall of 2013, beginning with episode 1, “The Black Atlantic (1500–1800)”, on October 22, 8–9 p.m. ET on PBS, and every consecutive Tuesday through to episode 6, “A More Perfect Union (1968–2013)”, on November 26. The companion book to the series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (SmileyBooks, 2013), was co-authored by Gates and historian Donald Yacovone.[2] The two-DVD set of the series was released in January 2014.  African Americans:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/177217642

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross chronicles the full sweep of the African-American experience, from the origins of the transatlantic slave trade to the reelection and second inauguration of President Barack Obama. It is the first documentary series to recount this history in its entirety since the nine-part History of the Negro People aired on National Educational Television in 1965, and the one-hour documentary Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed, narrated by Bill Cosby and broadcast in 1968. According to the PBS website for the series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross “explores the evolution of the African-American people, as well as the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives they developed — forging their own history, culture and society against unimaginable odds. Commencing with the origins of slavery in Africa, the series moves through five centuries of remarkable historic events right up to the present — when America is led by a black president, yet remains a nation deeply divided by race.”[1]

Roots is an American television miniseries based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family. The series first aired on ABC in January 1977. Roots received 37 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won nine. It also won a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award. It received unprecedented Nielsen ratings for the finale, which still holds a record as the third-highest-rated episode for any type of television series, and the second-most watched overall series finale in U.S. television history.   Rootshttps://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/241650990

The Blind Side is a 2009 American biographical sports drama film written and directed by John Lee Hancock. Based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis, the film tells the story of Michael Oher, an American football offensive lineman who overcame an impoverished upbringing to play in the National Football League (NFL) with the help of his adoptive parents Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy. It stars Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy, and Quinton Aaron as Oher.  Blind Side:   https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/73847608

Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder. It is loosely based on the 2016 non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about African American female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race. The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and other missions. The film also features Octavia Spencer as NASA supervisor and mathematician Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monáe as NASA engineer Mary Jackson, with Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge and Glen Powell in supporting roles.  Hidden Figures:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/292277818

If Beale Street Could Talk is a 2018 American romantic drama film written and directed by Barry Jenkins, and based on James Baldwin’s 1974 novel of the same name. It stars an ensemble cast that includes KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Michael Beach, Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal, Ed Skrein, Brian Tyree Henry, and Regina King. The film follows a young woman who, with her family’s support, seeks to clear the name of her wrongly charged lover and prove his innocence before the birth of their child.  Beale Street could talk: https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/382180830

Harriet is a 2019 American biographical film directed by Kasi Lemmons, who also wrote the screenplay with Gregory Allen Howard. It stars Cynthia Erivo as abolitionist Harriet Tubman, with Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, and Janelle Monáe in supporting roles. A biography about Harriet Tubman had been in the works for years, with several actresses, including Viola Davis, rumored to star. Erivo was cast in February 2017, and much of the cast and crew joined the following year. Filming took place in Virginia from October to December 2018.  Harriet:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/433410964

12 Years a Slave is a 2013 biographical period-drama film and an adaptation of the 1853 slave memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free African-American man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery. Northup was put to work on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before being released. The first scholarly edition of Northup’s memoir, co-edited in 1968 by Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon, carefully retraced and validated the account and concluded it to be accurate. Other characters in the film were also real people, including Edwin and Mary Epps, and Patsey.  12 years a Slave:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/160011256

The Hate U Give is a 2018 American drama film co-produced and directed by George Tillman Jr. from a screenplay by Audrey Wells, based on the 2017 young adult novel of the same name by Angie Thomas. The film was produced by Marty Bowen, ck Godfrey, Robert Teitel and Tillman Jr., and stars Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Sabrina Carpenter, Common, and Anthony Mackie, and follows the fallout after a high school student witnesses a police shooting. This is an exposé of the kind of violence happening in black neighborhoods every day.  The Hate You Give: https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/444352076

 

Interviews

Isabel Wilkerson on NPR 

Isabel Wilkerson with Bryan Stevenson

Wilkerson joins Bryan Stevenson, the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. He is also the author of the award-winning book Just Mercy, which was recently adapted as a major motion picture.
Learn more

Isabel Wilkerson and Kens Burns

Join two of our country’s most accomplished storytellers, Ken Burns and Isabel Wilkerson, as they discuss the complexities of the American narrative and how grappling with the past might lead us forward.
Learn more

James McBride interview seems right up our alley; Art, Social Justice and Deacon King Kong   https://www.pbs.org/wnet/amanpour-and-company/video/james-mcbride-on-art-social-justice-and-deacon-king-kong/

 

Other Online Resources

Whiteness Project is an interactive investigation into how Americans who identify as white, or partially white, understand and experience their race. Whiteness Project is conducting interviews with people from all walks of life and localities in which they are asked about their relationship to, and their understanding of, their own whiteness. Each video interview is paired with a statistic that provides a greater societal context and offers an opportunity for self-reflection by the audience on their own thoughts about race.

Whiteness Project’s first installment, Inside the White/Caucasian Box, is a collection of 21 interviews filmed in Buffalo, NY in July 2014 and released in October 2014. The latest installment, Intersection of I, is a collection of 23 interviews filmed in Dallas, Texas in July 2015 and released in April 2016. This second installment features a cross-section of Millennials, ages 15-27, who share their views about race and identity. The project is ongoing and we are in production on additional installments.

By engendering debate about the role of whiteness in American society and encouraging white Americans to become fully vested participants in the ongoing debate about the role of race in American society, Whiteness Project aims to inspire reflection and foster discussions that ultimately lead to improved communication around issues of race and identity.

Join the conversation with #WhitenessProject and follow them on social media.

 

Resources for Younger Readers  

Juanita Fights the School Board –  Print:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/497774952   Overdrive eBook:  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/231535750

Juanita Fights the School Board is the first novel in Gloria Velásquez’s Roosevelt High School Series, a series featuring characters with whom all children, and especially U.S. Hispanic children, can relate. This novel for young adults details the expulsion of a young Mexican-American girl from Roosevelt High School for getting involved in a fight with another student. The story begins with Juanita’s expulsion and describes the effect this event has on her self-image and on her family. One of six children of California migrant workers, Juanita hopes to be the first in her family to graduate from high school. With the help of a school psychologist and a former civil rights attorney, Juanita fights the discrimination against minorities at Roosevelt High School and returns from her expulsion more determined than ever to fulfill her dream of graduating from high school.  This E book is on overdrive.  It is a YA book.

Also suggested by the Placitas Reads committee was Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  The book is a letter written to his son as he tries to answer his son’s questions about race relations in the United States and how to face the challenges of being black in this country.

Easy Selections about Hispanic families and many selections about migrant families and their adjustment to life in the United States and how they handled the discrimination and challenges.  Most, if not all are bilingual.

 

Chave’s Memories by Maria Isabel Delgado.   https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/71524278  This book is about life on the U.S.-Mexican border.

Hairs:Pelitos by Sandra Cisneros.   https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/71528516   This book is about diversity in physical appearance. 

The Upside Down Boy by poet, Juan Felipe Herrera.   https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/71516136  The author recalls the year that his farmworker parents moved to a city so he could attend school for the first time. 

Two books by Carmen Lomas Garza, En Mi familia and Cuadros de Familia. The author shares special memories and traditions from her childhood.

My Very Own Room by Amada Irma Perez is learning to adapt to crowded living conditions in a new city.

My Diary From Here to There by Amada Irma Perez.  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/128868384   Memories of moving from Mexico to Los Angeles.

A Movie in My Pillow by Jorge Argueta.   https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/71516032   This is a collection of poems detailing the memories of his childhood in El Salvador and his new adventures in San Francisco.

Iguanas in the Snow by Francisco X. Alarcon.  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/71531116  A collection of poems that contrast his grandmother’s home in Mexico with his new one in California.

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way by Luis J. Rodriquez.   https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/71510410  A story of a young man dealing with gang violence in his barrio (neighborhood).

Biographies:

Me Llamo Gabriela/My Name is Gabriela by Monica Brown.  Gabriela was a Chilean  poet and a teacher.

Pele: King of Soccer by Monica Brown and another by James Buckley.  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/71533600

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera.   https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/241651488

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Caesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull.   https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/71534240

Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora is the story of Tomas Rivera who became the first minority Chancellor of the University of California system.  https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/88092280

Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court Justice.   https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/425308590

My Name is Jorge on Both Sides of the River by Jane Medina is a collection of poems describing the struggles of a boy attending school in the United States.   https://placitas.biblionix.com/catalog/biblio/76374134

Program Funding

PCL Receives National Grant for Small and Rural Libraries

The $3,000 grant will help the Library work with residents on the community read project: Placitas Reads: Color, Class, and Caste: The Other Social Distancing.

Learn more 

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Book Cover of "Caste" by Dr. Isabel Wilkerson

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