Review: We Should All Be Feminists

We Should All Be Feminists We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Adichie's short book (what's the equivalent of a novella in nonfiction? Long-form essay?) is a collection of short essays that stem from her TED Talk exploring how and why feminism is a necessity for all societies. She connects her personal stories and experiences to the larger discourse on feminism and draws useful analogies for many to understand and appreciate about its place in the 21st century throughout the world. It's a quick read that can refuel some while also introducing complex considerations about feminism to someone just exploring it for the first time.

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Review: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If there is a single book that can structurally explain how racism permeates the history and mythology of the United States, then Kendi's book is if not the book, then certainly a contender (having not read all of them, I cannot say, but having read many books on race, this one is among the best). Kendi traces the history of the United States' approach to, discourse on, and political consequences of racism from the colonies in the 1600s until the present. He does this by exploring the lives of five pivotal figures in the history of racism who span all five centuries of US history: Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. DuBois, and Angela Davis. Kendi posits three ideologies that are found in various forms throughout the history and the works of those with whom he presents: racist, assimilationist, and anti-racist ideologies. Ultimately, Kendi's power lies in his ability to tie the individual lives to the contemporary discourse of the individuals' time while also drawing parallels to and building a mounting context for understanding racism in the present.

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Review: The Making of Asian America: A History

The Making of Asian America: A History The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where do I begin with this review besides just saying, "WOW!" I knew about some of the aspects of this book such as strong anti-Asian immigration laws and racial discrimination in the US toward Asian-Americans since the 1800s. But Lee provides a meticulous and nuanced exploration of the history of migration and representation within the Americas since the 1500s. She traces the history of discriminatory practices by different American countries that challenge, limit, devalue, or pit against one another the many different immigrants from the numerous Asian countries. In doing so, she helps the reader understand the denial of identity and culture that comes with the term "Asian American", and how it masks the distinct experiences, cultural dynamics, and sense of history that different immigrants from Asian bring with them. In tracing the history to the present century, Lee further aids readers in considering the experience of Asian Americans whose families have been here for generations and the more recent Asian American immigrants fit into the rhetoric of immigration for various discourses and for different dominant-group purposes. It's definitely a must-read for people trying to better understand race and ethnicity in the Americas.

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Review: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wise's memoir of his own awakening to systematic racism in the United States is a powerful and useful tale for white people to read and reflect on their own experience. From his early upbringing in the south to his education in New Orleans and early days of activism against the David Duke campaigns in the 1990s, Wise explores the ways in which he has succeeded and failed in being an ally to non-white people. But what Wise does best throughout the book is to mark with clarity the ways in which the privilege afforded him by being white created opportunities or nullifed threats that would have existed for him, were he not white. Additionally, he is great at unpackaging the ways in which investment in whiteness doesn't harm just non-whites but does damage to white people as well. For anyone looking to better understand how one can strive to address and engage with the racial strife in this country, Wise's book is a great start.

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The PhD Chronicles: 1/3 Complete!?!?!

I'm not entirely complete with the summer session--after all, I've got 3 papers to still write in the next month but I am done with the courses themselves and am poised to finish these papers, thus, completing the first 1/3 of credits for the program.  24 credits in just over a year.  It's been intense to say the least but I'm glad I've stuck with it.

This semester has been a bit more emotionally rougher than I would like.  I had the malaise of the first week, which was hard to get through and then the massacre in Orlando happened at the start of the second week.  Though I was able to recenter myself by the end of the first week, the start of the second week with the shooting, shook me up some more and the inevitable hate and bigotry that spewed forth from many pitting bigotries of all sorts against one another and alienating so many people also cut deeply.  The rawness of that coupled with the reminder of the potential harm that "education" as a systematic force can create from the globalization course to the poorly taught afternoon course made for a lot of challenges.    

I feel like I need to dedicate this semester to my cohort.  I felt so disconnected from things because of what I was struggling with in terms of wondering about my place in the program and world of higher education at large and many other issues that came up in our morning class on globalization.  The afternoon class did not get any better than the first week.  However, my cohort commiserated with me and we tried to help one another to keep us trekking forward, knowing that the end was in sight.  


Word cloud for this blog post
The cohort cannot be undervalued in this program.  I know not all cohorts are the same and the dynamics can vary but invest in your cohort.  They can be a place of solace and strength.  This semester, I found that our ways of discussion and strategizing how we dealt with the challenges and limitations of the program to be quite powerful and important.  We've spent the last year getting to know one another and gelling as we figured out our strengths and challenges.  This summer, we saw the power of that work and how it helped all of us to take the necessary steps and that's been really great to see.

When I consider the big different between this summer session and the first summer session, it would be this:  The first summer session is about getting caught up to speed about higher education and our roles in it while also trying to acclimate ourselves to the different faculty and expectations.  Fast forward three semesters and I feel like this summer I was ready to do what work I could, not worry about the rest, and just allow myself the intellectual luxury to enjoy the development and insights that were occurring to me.  This could have happened more smoothly and powerfully if the second class was not so much about cramming content and not engaging ideas, but this seems to be the essential disposition to take in this program.  There's no conceivable way to cover it all.  There just isn't for full-time professionals, but one can meaningfully sift and organize what you come across to be prepared to reach for or at least have a glancing understanding of those things you don't get to.  

Beyond being close to completing 24 credits of the program, I was also excited to meet with the program directors to pursue two projects.  One project will be to take over their social media and the other will be to overhaul their website to make it more student friendly.  I'm particularly excited about these projects as I feel like they will get me more engaged with the faculty and the program as a whole as well as an opportunity to help and impact students.  

At this point, I know more existential challenges await, but I know it will get done and I will someday be called "Dr. Eaton"--something I still snicker at the thought of.  But I'm going to do this and that's all I need to keep thinking about. 


Want to catch up on my previous reflections about being in a PhD program?  Check them out:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Orientation
  3. Day 1
  4. Week 1
  5. First 2 Courses Completed
  6. First 2 Courses Finished
  7. Semester 2, Here We Go
  8. The Existential Crisis of the Week
  9. The Balancing Act
  10. Negotiating Privilege in Higher Education
  11. Zeroing in on Research
  12. Completing the Second Semester
  13. Dissertation Journal #1
  14. Dissertation Journal #2
  15. So Starts The Third Semester
  16. My Educational Philosophy...for now
  17. Dissertation Journal #3
  18. PhD'ese
  19. And Sometimes, You Feel It
  20.  Semester's Endgame
  21. Year 1, Officially Done
  22. Year 2, Week 1, Day 1
  23. Year 2, Week 1 Done!


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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.