Students gain deeper understanding of race through book club

MJ Routh | Multimedia Journalist

By Harry Rowe | Staff Writer

Baylor’s Multicultural Affairs activity students can participate in a book club this semester, which “helps enrich our understanding of other cultures and perspectives by reading and discussing books that offer a unique point of view or narrative,” according to their webpage. Race is the main subject of their current book, “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World made for Whitenessby Austin Channing Brown, and discusses how the author has been looked at differently in professional environments because of the color of her skin.

“The Multicultural Affairs book club started to engage students in conversations about culture and identity,” said Maggie Griffin, coordinator of creative services for Multicultural Affairs. “Reading books about different cultures offers us a chance to consider the world from a different perspective, reflect on our own identities and grow in our empathy, compassion and understanding of one another. These are skills that we hope our students cultivate as they interact with all of our programs in Multicultural Affairs.”

Griffin is a Baylor alumnus and worked with the mind behind the event — graduate apprentice Megan Glover. The book was voted upon on as the chosen book on Multicultural Affair’s Instagram and Twitter pages, according to Griffin.

“I think this book was appealing to students because it is a personal narrative of being a minority within primarily white spaces — a reality many Baylor students face,” Griffin said.

The book club is in its second semester and is growing, according to Griffin. The first book the club read was “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez.

“This semester we expanded the book club by inviting staff and faculty to read the book with us and meet separately from the student meeting,” Griffin said. “We plan to continue the book club with a different selection each semester.”

Arlington, Va., junior Rachel Cummins said she enjoys how the book discusses race and the effects it has in everyday life.

“Austin does a great job at explaining how her ‘blackness’ is perceived by others and how this impacts her life,” Cummins said. “She explains in a humble yet insightful way the ways in which she is affected by people who implicitly and explicitly treat her differently because of the color of her skin — specifically at work, where the special attention is being paid to her in order to hold her to a higher standard than her non-black coworkers. [She also explores] how she seeks to respond to these people in a way that honors God.”

Cummins said the book club has been a very positive experience for her, expanding the way she thinks about the world.

“I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this book club, as it creates a space for vulnerability, honesty and discovery in each individual’s personal life, in addition to as a collective group,” Cummins said. “I’ve been challenged to think about myself and my own experiences and have grown by learning about those of others.”