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UMSI releases DEI committee summer reading list 

Tuesday, 03/30/2021

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee at the School of Information has compiled a summer reading booklist that explores issues of race, gender and social justice with a focus on books related to technology and academia. 

“We are excited to see the launch of the DEI Committee's summer reading list, thanks to the work of the reading list subcommittee,” said Devon Keen, Director of Inclusion, Equity and Outreach at UMSI and staff co-chair of the school’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. “So often folks are looking for a place to start and we hope this reading list will provide the UMSI community with a guide. 

“We look forward to collaborating with Allison Sweet, Student Life Program Manager, to explore ways to incorporate the list into orientation activities and encourage participation in the recently formed Race and Tech reading group,” Keen said. “This reading group, formed in Winter 2020 to discuss topics related to race and technology, has already begun engaging with many of these books. They are a great example of how we can facilitate group discussion and learning around issues of equity, inclusion and social justice in tech at UMSI.”

According to UMSI associate professor Eric Gilbert, “the reading list subcommittee worked together to merge various books and syllabi that we liked over a few weeks’ time. Then, in discussion with each other, we picked our favorites that we thought would be good for the rest of the community to read.”

The list below includes comments from the DEI committee members and others who recommended each book and their reasons for choosing it.

Title: Race after Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code
Author: Ruha Benjamin
Recommended by Michael Nebeling
An eye-opening reading, breaking through the benevolent facade of technology and pointing out how, in our desire to innovate and advance tech, we have upheld and amplified social divisions and supremacist values."

Title: Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life
Author: Ruha Benjamin
Recommended by Ron Eglash
Nice chapter by Nettrice Gaskins on AfroFuturism and art."

Title: Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures
Author: André Brock Jr.
Recommended by Ron Eglash
Great book for including Black joy as part of anti-racism."

Title: Network Sovereignty: Building the Internet Across Indian Country
Author: Marisa Elena Duarte
Recommended by Patricia Garcia
A nuanced examination of efforts to expand internet and ICT infrastructure across Indian Country. The discussion of governance, sovereignty, and cultural knowledge help me think more critically about information "access" through a decolonial lens."

Title: Undermining Racial Justice: How One University Embraced Inclusion and Inequality
Author: Matthew Johnson
Recommended by Eric Gilbert and Kentaro Toyama
How reasonably good intentions haven't been enough to cause systemic institutional change with regard to race. The 'university' of the title is the University of Michigan."

Title: Sex, Race, and Robots: How to Be Human in the Age of AI
Author: Ayanna Howard
Recommended by Tawanna Dillahunt and Cani McMillian
Inspiring work from Dr. Ayanna Howard. She presents dystopian and surprisingly utopian perspectives on the future of robots and AI."

Title: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Author: Maya Angelou
Recommended by Tawanna Dillahunt
Must read and listen (hearing Maya Angelou's voice on Audible was beautiful)!"

Title: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Author: Michelle Alexander
Recommended by Alissa Talley-Pixley
An in-depth, harrowing lesson of the ways that Anti-black racism has not diminished, but instead continues to shift towards being more covertly ingrained in our society. A must read for a real history of policy and laws that shape the nation and ways of thinking for many Americans."

Title: The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X
Authors: Les Payne and Tamara Payne
Recommended by Kentaro Toyama
An inspiring biography of the man who embodied so many of the themes of today's BLM movement, with new insight into his childhood and thinking as he lived it."

Title:  Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds
Author: adrienne maree brown
Recommended by Rebecca Epstein
A practical and joyful guidebook about community organizing written by a local Detroit powerhouse mentored by Grace Lee Boggs."

Title: Presumed Incompetent II: Race, Class, Power, and Resistance of Women in Academia
Edited by Yolanda Flores Niemann, Gabriella Gutierrez y Muhs and Carmen G. Gonzalez; Foreword by Angela P. Harris 
Recommended by Nazanin Andalibi 
This book includes powerful stories of oppression, resistance, and resilience from women of color in academia as well as guidance on fighting back and thriving despite oppressive structures we exist within. I think this book is a must read for diversity/equity/inclusion-related personnel, Deans, Presidents, Provosts, allies, and others in positions of power in academia. I would go a step further to argue that this book is also a must read for students. I often find myself questioning whether enough students are aware of the differences of positions their professors hold and what that means for their approach to teaching and mentoring. I have reason to believe that we could do better. Lastly, I think this book is one that while may be painful for women of color to read, it can also assist in feeling less alone and building solidarity."