Book club discusses race, equity
As communities across the world reflect on how to address racial injustice and inequities, the CommUNITY Book Club is continuing the conversation with the Victoria area through literature.
Created in the fall, the CommUNITY Book Club is supported by the University of Houston-Victoria Diversity and Race Task Force. The book club is a collaboration between UHV, United Way of the Crossroads, Be Well Victoria Coalition and Center for Peace Victoria. The books chosen for the book club’s events are written by diverse authors and cover topics about race and diversity.
Book club members are meeting virtually through Microsoft Teams at 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday in February. In honor of Black History Month, members are discussing “Between the World and Me,” a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates, about a father telling his son his experiences growing up as an African American.
“The CommUNITY Book Club is a space where community members can read literature from diverse authors writing nonfiction or fiction based on common experiences,” said Rebecca Lake, UHV senior director of equal access and task force staff co-chair. “We are excited to continue discussions about social justice and race.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May, United Way of the Crossroads launched the 7-Day Equity Challenge, an online activity that teaches about the history and impacts of racism in everyday lives and ways to make positive change in the community. The book club is one of the ways participants wanted to keep the momentum going, said Jill Blucher, United Way community engagement coordinator.
The first book in the fall that the club covered was “How To Be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram Kendi.
“Between the World and Me” is a nonfiction book published in 2015. It is a No. 1 New York Times Bestseller, National Book Award Winner, Pulitzer Prize finalist and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. It was named one of the 10 best nonfiction books of the decade by Time magazine. The book also has been adapted into an HBO special.
The club chose the book so that people could read the book or watch the movie, Blucher said. For those who read the book, the club will discuss a few chapters at a time each meeting. There also will be a period of open discussion for people to talk about how the experiences detailed in the book relate to their own in the Victoria area. As part of the partnership, UHV shares book club information and purchases the physical and e-book copies the club needs.
“So far, we have had a great response from those in the club, and it has been an eye-opening experience for people to have these open discussions in a nonjudgmental way,” she said. “It is so necessary for us not to miss the lessons that we were presented in 2020 and in our history about race and peel out how those inequities show themselves in the present in the Crossroads.”
“Between the World and Me” is available in hard copy, electronic book, audiobook and electronic audiobook formats at the UHV Library for UHV and Victoria College faculty, staff, students and community members. UHV and VC faculty, staff and students can access the electronic copies from anywhere. Community members are able to access the electronic formats while on campus or in the library.
The UHV Library is located in UHV University Commons, 3006 N. Ben Wilson St., and is open to the public. To obtain a free UHV Library card, contact the library at 361-570-4166. Books purchased from the Texian Bookstore, 201 S. Main St., for the book club are offered at a discount. Those who purchase books through Amazon Smile can set United Way of the Crossroads as their charity of choice to help the nonprofit receive donations from Amazon at no cost to the customer.
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.