The New Year

The Fall semester kept me very busy with teaching and other work, so I wasn’t able to post as actively here as I would have liked. However, thanks to my first sabbatical from Raritan Valley Community College, I will be able to devote the next several months to reading and writing about racial justice. I am excited to be able to focus my energy on my book project, and I think this work is needed now more than ever. My book will be an introductory handbook about racial justice aimed at K-12 educators, social service workers, students, and organizers. I appreciate the feedback I’ve already received, and I look forward to more.

Participating in RVCC’s Social Action Collective, RVCC’s Research Writing Group, and the Hunterdon County Anti-Racism Coalition have all been tremendously important to my work. I’ve also attended several community trainings run by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and the Center for the Study of White American Culture, which have taught me so much.

Teaching “Race in American Literature and Popular Culture” last fall, a course I designed more than ten years ago, helped me shape this project, and I am grateful to the students for keeping me focused. I also organized a staged reading of the original play Hello My Name Is at RVCC and built it into my course curriculum, in connection to The New Jim Crow. Meta Theatre Company performed the play and co-wrote it with the women inmates of Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton, NJ. I had the honor of teaching an American Literature course there last spring and look forward to teaching my Race course there and at Mountainview, the nearby men’s prison. (RVCC offers a college degree at both prisons through NJ-STEP.) Last June, I joined Meta Theatre Company’s weekly meetings at Edna Mahan and helped lead discussion of The New Jim Crow, which we read not only in my class but also in a community book discussion via the Hunterdon County Anti-Racism Coalition.

I am honored to join MTC this weekend in Saratoga Springs, NY to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. On Sunday, MTC will perform scenes from Hello My Name Is, and I’ll be on a follow-up panel discussion about mass incarceration, and then on Monday, MTC will perform scenes from RISE (their original show that they have performed at RVCC several times, including for my Race class in Fall 2014), and I will open that performance with a short lecture about race and racism. I will post my comments here, so stay tuned!

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