ARRK – January 2022 Discussion

ARRK January 2022 Discussion with Chris Ludwa

Participants restricted to Kalamazoo College Faculty, Staff, Students, and Administration

A discussion on Valyn Lyric Turner’s spoken word poem “Race in the Classroom: Seeing Color”

11:30 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. on Tuesday, January 18th
ARRK Meeting space (MS Teams)
Discussion Leader: Chris Ludwa

For January’s ARRK Chris Ludwa will be leading a discussion of Valyn Lyric Turner’s spoken word poem “Race in the Classroom: Seeing Color.” Ludwa used this video in his Social Justice and the Arts course last term and students remarked how much this piece and Ms. Turner’s delivery connected with their experiences of being “seen” and “unseen” at K. We’ll use this short video as a prompt to check in with inclusive practices, successes and challenges at K over the last two years.


The AntiRacism Reading Knook (ARRK) is a collaboration between the K College library staff and our Inclusive Excellence (KCIE) leadership team. This initiative is NOT a book club, but seeks to facilitate campus-wide engagement with the books in the KCIE Reading for Change book collection. This collection was created to encourage learning about and facilitate greater access to antiracism information to all members of the campus community.

ARRK aims to:

  1. reduce barrier to entry into reading antiracism books,
  2. identify and highlight campus facilitators with experience teaching and/or disciplinary expertise who can provide context and guide discussions of specific texts,
  3. foster broader relationships among faculty and staff, and thus
  4. build greater capacity for an inclusive campus through sustained and focused engagement with shared texts.
  5. help catalyze members of the campus to engage in small group discussions of entire books in the collection (self-organized book clubs, if you will).

For further information on #ARRK see the KCIE AntiRacism Reading Knook page. To volunteer to lead one of these sessions complete the ARRK Discussion Leader application.

19: This Month in Black History – ‘Tis the Season to be Jolly

Happy Kwanzaa!


by Dr. Fari Nzinga (editorial support from Dr. Regina Stevens-Truss)

Happy Holidays! This is the time of year when millions of people will wish each other a Merry Christmas, happy Solstice or happy Hannukah. Some may even say happy Kwanzaa… but, how many know it’s roots or know someone who celebrates it? [FYI – Oprah, Maya Angelou, Chuck D, Angelina Jolie, and Synthia Saint James (who designed the first Kwanzaa postage stamp in 1997), all celebrate it]

So, what is Kwanzaa anyway, you ask?

Kwanzaa is a festival that takes place annually from December 26th to January 1st. I know what you’re thinking, but it was not meant to replace Christmas. In 1966, after a rather tumultuous year of violent social unrest in Los Angeles – Watts especially – Maulana Karenga, a young Black man involved with activist groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panthers, was one of many Black youngsters who had been starved of information about his past and was intellectually curious about African peoples’ histories and civilizations. Wanting to marry scholarship in Black and Africana studies with direct action and other forms of activism, Karenga turned his attention to the political possibilities of Black and African culture. One of his first cultural projects was the creation of Kwanzaa, a secular, week-long celebration of African heritage, culture and philosophy.

The name Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza,” meaning “first fruits.” Kwanzaa is a holiday that draws inspiration from traditional harvest festivals celebrated throughout Africa (it is important to note that although over 2000 languages are spoken on the African continent, Swahili is spoken by millions on the continent and was adopted as the unifying language of Kwanzaa). Karenga sought to emphasize that the basic principles found in producing the harvest are vital to building and maintaining strong and wholesome communities.

Kwanzaa kinara

The primary symbols of Kwanzaa can be seen in the Kwanzaa Table Candles image from gettyimages: the mkeka, a woven straw mat symbolizing how African heritage builds upon tradition; the kinara, a seven-space candle holder, representing the original stalk from which the African people originated; the mishumaa sabaa, the seven candles displayed (black, red, and green based on the colors of the Pan-African flag) and used in the candle lighting ceremony (more on this to follow below), represent the seven principles described below; the kikombe cha umoja is the cup with which to pour libations; the muhindi are the ears of corn which represent the offspring (children) of the stalk (parents of the house); and the zawadi (gifts) represent the fruits of the labor of the parents and the rewards of seeds sown by the children.

Each day of Kwanzaa corresponds with a principle upon which celebrants reflect. The seven principles (described below) representing the seven days are known as the Nguzo Saba. During the celebration of Kwanzaa, it is customary to greet friends and family with the Swahili phrase, “Habari gani“, meaning, “What’s the news?” In response, one answers with the principle of the day (Umoja, for example, is the response given on December 26th):

Umoja (unity) – to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Kujichagulia (self-determination) – to define ourselves, name ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Ujima (collective work and responsibility) – to build and maintain our community together and to make our brothers and sisters problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (cooperative economics) – to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit together from them.

Nia (purpose) – to make as our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (creativity) – to do always as much as we can, in the way we can in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it.

Imani (faith) – to believe with all our heart in our parents, our teachers, our leaders, our people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

So, what happens during the 7 days of Kwanzaa, you ask?

Well, the National Museum of African Art and the Anacostia Museum describe the candle lighting ceremony, which is central to the celebration of Kwanzaa observance and which reinforces the meaning of the seven principles, as follows:

Each night (from Dec 26 to Jan 1) at a time when all members of the family are present – children are encouraged to take an active role in all activities – a candle is lit.

Day 1 (Dec 26) – the ceremony begins with the lighting of the black candle and TAMBIKO (libation), which an African form of praise which pays homage to personal and collective ancestors. The elder of the household pours wine, juice or distilled spirits from the KIKOMBE CHA UMOJA (unity cup) into the earth or an earth-filled vessel, and while pouring, the elder makes a statement honoring departed family members for the inspiration and values they have left with their descendants. Friends are also remembered.

After the TAMBIKO, as a gesture of unity, the elder drinks and then passes the unity cup around for all to share, while leading the call, “HARAMBEE” (let’s pull together), and everyone participates in repeating the phrase seven times.

Following the lighting of the first candle on day one “The candles are lit beginning with the black candle (always the black candle that represents Black people) on day one; followed by a red candle, representing the struggle of the people, on day two; then on day three a green candle is lit, representative of the future” (Oprah Magazine, The Principles and Meaning of Kwanzaa). The remaining candles are then lit, alternately, with the final one on January 1st. After each candle lighting, the principle of the day is discussed.

The evening of December 31 (Day 6) is the KARAMU (feast), a joyous celebration with food, drink, dance, and music for the collective family and friends. It is a time of rejoicing, reassessment and recommitment.

Day 7 (January 1) is reserved for SIKA YA TAAMULI, a day or meditation or assessment used by people to reflect on their lives.

Family celebrating Kwanzaa

Now, although Kwanzaa is a secular holiday, that does not mean that it is necessarily an apolitical one. The colors red, black and green are especially important and communicate Kwanzaa’s Pan-African political sentiment. Back in 1920, infamous Jamaican immigrant and Harlem resident, Marcus Garvey created the Pan-African flag (also referred to as the Black liberation flag) consists of three horizontal bars, one red, one black and one green. Garvey, also the founder and leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), the largest pro-Black political organization in the world, said in a 1921 speech that appeared in the Negro World newspaper: “Show me the race or the nation without a flag, and I will show you a race of people without any pride. Aye!” In song and mimicry they have said, “Every race has a flag but the coon.” How true! Aye!” Garvey saw the flag as a sign of political maturity, a manifestation of resistance to oppression, and a source of racial pride. According to Garvey, the red symbolizes the blood of martyrs, the black symbolizes the skin of Africans, and the green represents the vegetation of the African land (Marcus Garvy, Wikipedia)

While plenty of people think of Kwanzaa as an Afrocentric Christmas knock-off (if they think of Kwanzaa at all that is), plenty more have turned to the holiday as a much-needed reprieve from the demands of contemporary consumer culture. This holiday season, whether you choose to celebrate Kwanzaa or not, spend a little time reflecting on how YOU are contributing to the cause of Black liberation.

Here is wishing everyone happy holidays, and especially this year, happy Kwanzaa!

Regina Stevens-Truss

19: This Month in Black History – “The Crisis” & W.E.B. Du Bois

The Crisis” and W.E.B. DuBois


by Dr. Fari Nzinga (editorial support from Dr. Regina Stevens-Truss)

The Crisis has been in continuous print since November, 1910, and is the oldest Black-oriented magazine in the world. Today, The Crisis is a quarterly journal of civil rights, history, politics and culture and seeks to educate and challenge its readers about issues that continue to plague African Americans and other communities of color.” One of the founding fathers and The Crisis’ was William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, known as W.E.B Du Bois (pronounced Dew-Boys), who served as the journal’s editor for over 20 years.

W.E.B. Du Bois was a trailblazing public intellectual. He was a man of many firsts, and a giant in many fields like sociology, history, and political science, as well as a generous patron of literature and the arts. The encyclopedia Brittanica states that Du Bois was “the most important Black protest leader in the United States during the first half of the 20th century.”

Born in Great Barrington, in 1868, Du Bois was raised by his mother, Mary Silvina Burghardt, a domestic worker, and her relatives in rural Western Massachusetts. In 1884, Du Bois became the first African American graduate of the racially integrated public school. He would continue his education at Fisk University in Eastern Tennessee, and go on to enroll at Harvard University, where he received a BA cum laude, in 1890, an MA in 1891, and a PhD in 1895, making him the first African American to earn a doctorate at Harvard. His doctoral thesis, “The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America, 1638–1870,” was published in 1896 as the inaugural volume of the Harvard Historical Studies series.

That same year, Du Bois was commissioned by The University of Pennsylvania to conduct a study of the predominantly Black Seventh Ward in Philadelphia. Together with his assistant, Isabel Eaton, Du Bois utilized participant observation, archival research, descriptive statistics, interview and survey methods. The Philadelphia Negro, published in 1899, was the first sociological study of an African American community in the United States.

After conducting the research for his monumental study, Du bois put his talents to the service of his people and went on to teach at the historically Black Atlanta University in 1897. In Atlanta, he established the University’s sociology program, now recognized as the first school of American sociology; and, he established himself as a leading scholar, writing for journals like The Atlantic. Known for his astute and meticulous research methods, and his eloquent and cogent writing, Du Bois was invited by the U.S. Bureau of Labor to conduct several studies of southern African American households, which were later aggregated and published as a bureau bulletin under the title The Negroes of Farmville, Virginia: A Social Study.

Basically, Du Bois was a hot-shot, up-and-coming scholar, but with the publication of his monograph, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), he became an academic rock star. In the book, he observed that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line — the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea.” In response to this problem, Du Bois theorizes that some Black people develop a sense of double consciousness, where “one ever feels his twoness an American, a Negro, two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warring ideals, and one dark body whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

Soon, Du Bois was ruffling feathers and presenting a so-called third option between Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, both of whom Du Bois characterized as too-ready to accommodate the structures and systems of white supremacy. Instead of the integrationism espoused by Douglass, Du Bois argued that Black people should embrace their African heritage; and instead of supporting Washington’s Atlanta Compromise, Du Bois argued for first class citizenship and full political participation for Black people in the North as well as in the Jim Crow South. However, Du Bois was not satisfied with merely thinking, writing and teaching about Black cultural and political concerns. Du Bois became active in movements both national and international in support of Black freedom. He was a founding member of the Niagara Movement through which the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was conceived. Du Bois, the only Black Board Member of the NAACP, served as the director of research and for over two decades Du Bois edited its flagship publication, The Crisis.

As the editor-in-chief, Du Bois saw his mission as helping to cultivate Black writers, thinkers and artists, by creating a forum for full expression. He also helped to organize the first Pan-African Conference in London in 1900 and was a principal architect of four Pan-African Congresses held between 1919 and 1927. During this time, Du Bois strategically exploited his position at The Crisis to draw attention to the widespread use of racial violence, pushing for nationwide legislation that would outlaw the practice of lynching. As a socialist, Du Bois also published articles in favor of unionized labor, although he called out union leaders for barring Black membership. Under his guidance, the journal grew to a readership of 100,000 in 1920, and drew many new supporters to NAACP.

One thing that’s cool about Du Bois is that as he became more and more aware of the conditions and forces shaping and governing Black life, he became more and more strident in his calls for radical protest and action. For example, he resigned from the editorship of The Crisis and the NAACP in 1934, yielding his influence as a race leader and charging that the organization was dedicated to the interests of the Black bourgeoisie at the expense of the Black masses. A year later, he was back at Atlanta University, this time as the Chair of the Sociology department, his magnum opus, Black Reconstruction (1935) newly published. Du Bois’ characterization of the Civil War and Reconstruction placed the experiences of Black men and women at the center of the narrative, provided historical, political and economic context, and called out influential historians whose racist ideas, interpretations and emphases had disfigured the historical record. As per usual, the volume was impeccably researched using social science methods and argued using stirring prose.

W.E.B. Dubois’ voice is one that is needed today – amidst the noise in all sectors – his, would be a voice of reason.

We wish everyone a safe Thanksgiving Holiday filled with family, friends, good food, and love.

Regina Stevens-Truss

Final ARRK Discussion for Fall 2021 – Teaching to Transgress

ARRK November 2021 Discussion with Tony Nelson

Participants restricted to Kalamazoo College Faculty, Staff, Students, and Administration

4:10 – 5 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16th
ARRK Meeting space (MS Teams)
Discussion Leader: Tony Nelson

For the final ARRK this quarter we’ll be discussing bell hook’s chapter 4 “Paulo Freire” from Teaching to Transgress with Tony Nelson on Tuesday, November 16th at 4:10 p.m.


The AntiRacism Reading Knook (ARRK) is a collaboration between the K College library staff and our Inclusive Excellence (KCIE) leadership team. This initiative is NOT a book club, but seeks to facilitate campus-wide engagement with the books in the KCIE Reading for Change book collection. This collection was created to encourage learning about and facilitate greater access to antiracism information to all members of the campus community.

ARRK aims to:

  1. reduce barrier to entry into reading antiracism books,
  2. identify and highlight campus facilitators with experience teaching and/or disciplinary expertise who can provide context and guide discussions of specific texts,
  3. foster broader relationships among faculty and staff, and thus
  4. build greater capacity for an inclusive campus through sustained and focused engagement with shared texts.
  5. help catalyze members of the campus to engage in small group discussions of entire books in the collection (self-organized book clubs, if you will).

For further information on #ARRK see the KCIE AntiRacism Reading Knook page. To volunteer to lead one of these sessions complete the ARRK Discussion Leader application.

FYF: You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me with Dr. Mykee Fowlin

advertisement for Dr. Mykee Fowlin's presentation titled, "You Don't Know Me Until You Know Me"

Join Us for
You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me

Date/Time


Date: Thursday November 4
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Light dinner served at 6 p.m.

Open to Public | Provides a First-Year-Forum credit to students | 75 min. program after dinner

An interactive performance/workshop around biases, mental wellness, love & life

In his one-man presentation, You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me, Dr. Mykee Fowlin takes the audience on an experiential journey, having them reexamine core precepts that were taught to us from as early on as 1st grade. He uses many of his gifts – humor, performance art, poetry, storytelling, psychology, theatrical monologues, and his personal journey – to create a moving experience for all who are open to this evolution.

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19: This Month in Black History – The True meaning of Diez de Octubre

Diez de Octubre


by Dr. Fari Nzinga (editorial support from Dr. Regina Stevens-Truss)


The history of Black people can be told from all over the world. And, Black people in the Diaspora are quite over-expressed in the Caribbean islands.

Cuba has been in the news recently, as young people took to the streets to protest in unprecedented numbers during the summer of 2021. Not surprisingly, Havana’s primarily Black neighborhoods, such as La Güinera, Centro Habana, Diez de Octubre, Cerro, and La Habana Vieja, have been the epicenters of the largest and most recent demonstrations. But if you are familiar with Cuban social and political history, it begins to make sense as to why these locations would be at the vanguard of political protest.

Revered as Cuba’s Padre de la Patria, or Father of the Nation, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y del Castillo called for open rebellion against Spain in his manifesto, El Grito de Yara, published on Diez de Octubre (October 10), 1868. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes was born in Bayamo, in Eastern Cuba, to well-to-do, land-owning parents of Andalusian origin. He was raised in the lap of luxury and recalled with tenderness and nostalgia the enslaved woman who nursed and cared for him all his life. By helping to establish the Junta Revolucionaria de Cuba, and publishing the Grito, or shout, Céspedes was essentially committing racial and class suicide. Though not officially recognized by the United States government and consciously ignored by President Grant, the Cuban Junta was active in the United States. Raising money around the country as monetary support for the Cuban rebels.

From the town of Yara near his plantation in La Demajagua, Céspedes kicked off the Ten Years’ War (1868-1878) by freeing his slaves and declaring Cuba’s independence from Spain. In the independence manifesto, Céspedes cited, amongst his numerous complaints: arbitrary government, excessive taxation, corruption, the exclusion of Criollos (Cuban-born men) from government employment, and the lack of religious and political liberty – particularly the rights to assembly and petition. It called for the establishment of a republic with universal male suffrage, and the abolition of slavery. As a strategic move, discussion of emancipation had the immediate effect of attracting large numbers of Black people and abolitionists to the cause. And though full abolition would not happen until 1886, the revolutionary, anti-slavery movement throughout the island picked up momentum.

Generals Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo took up arms against Spain and ignited the rebel campaign in the eastern provinces around Guantánamo. General Máximo Gómez Baez, who would come to be lionized in Cuban history and popular culture, was actually born in Baní, Santo Domingo – which was then a part of Haiti. He gained his military experience by fighting against Haitian expansion in Hispañola. Gómez burned sugar plantations to the ground in efforts to destroy the economic base of the Spanish colonialists, and called for others to do the same. It is important to note that Eastern Cuba is to Western Cuba as the Southern U.S. is to the Northern U.S.: the landscape is much more rural, the economy is organized around agricultural production, the institution of slavery was much more widespread, and as a result today, there is a much larger population of Black people in Eastern Cuba. In 1868, the region of Oriente Province of Cuba, was known for its Spanish loyalism and the supposed meekness of its enslaved population. However, in just a few months after the start of emancipation fights, the entire Oriente Province was up in arms, and the Spanish were only able to keep control the municipalities of Guantánamo, Imías, and Caimanera in Guantánamo Province, which actually gave them control of much of the rich sugar and coffee growing areas in the region. Of important note is Lt. General José Antonio de la Caridad Maceo y Grajales, who was second-in-command of the Cuban Army of Independence (nicknamed “El Titán de Bronce” after being wounded several times in battle), refused to surrender when other Cuban generals believed they could not defeat the Spanish army, citing that Cuban independence and the abolition of slavery needed to happen first. Interestingly, Maceo’s mother was an AfroCuban woman and his father a Venezuelan “mulatto” whose father had fought for the Spanish against the forces for independence led by Simón Bolívar – his parents ironically, had moved to Santiago de Cuba for the tranquility of Eastern Cuba, fleeing the unrest in Hispañola.

So, you see, the spirit of that rebellion continues to live on into the 21st century as AfroCubans continue to fight for freedom and justice. As Cuban artist and dissident Tania Bruguera, while being on house arrest for eight months and who was arrested in July, 2021 after speaking to Politico about the unprecedent protests in Cuba stated: “[Vandalizing] the food stores means they are hungry and there is no way they have access to food. And turning over the police cars is saying they have enough of the police abuse. The people have spoken very clearly.” As we honor the anniversary of Grito de Dolores heard around the circum-Caribbean, it seems appropriate to examine the ongoing struggles against the undying legacies of racism and imperialism around the world – this history of the island of Cuba is but one!

Regina Stevens-Truss, Professor of Chemistry
regina.stevens-truss@kzoo.edu

Speak Up, Show Up – ARRK Oct 2021 Discussion

ARRK October 2021 Discussion with Katrina Frank

Participants restricted to Kalamazoo College Faculty, Staff, Students, and Administration

A discussion on acting outwardly as an ally.

4:10 – 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 19th
ARRK Meeting space (MS Teams)
Discussion Leader: Katrina Frank

For October’s Speak Up, Show Up discussion participants will watch and analyze short video clips that show examples of microaggressions, prejudice, and oppression. Participants will also discuss and practice how they can speak up for others in a time of need. See the ARRK Teams Meeting Space for the two short videos (less than five minutes to watch both videos).


The AntiRacism Reading Knook (ARRK) is a collaboration between the K College library staff and our Inclusive Excellence (KCIE) leadership team. This initiative is NOT a book club, but seeks to facilitate campus-wide engagement with the books in the KCIE Reading for Change book collection. This collection was created to encourage learning about and facilitate greater access to antiracism information to all members of the campus community.

ARRK aims to:

  1. reduce barrier to entry into reading antiracism books,
  2. identify and highlight campus facilitators with experience teaching and/or disciplinary expertise who can provide context and guide discussions of specific texts,
  3. foster broader relationships among faculty and staff, and thus
  4. build greater capacity for an inclusive campus through sustained and focused engagement with shared texts.
  5. help catalyze members of the campus to engage in small group discussions of entire books in the collection (self-organized book clubs, if you will).

For further information on #ARRK see the KCIE AntiRacism Reading Knook page. To volunteer to lead one of these sessions complete the ARRK Discussion Leader application.

19: This Month in Black History – The U.S. Surgeon

Dr. Joycelyn Elders, US Surgeon General (19913-1994)
Photo Credit: HHS.gov – Office of the Surgeon General

by Dr. Fari Nzinga (editorial support from Dr. Regina Stevens-Truss)

“The U.S. Surgeon General is the Nation’s Doctor, providing Americans with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury. The Surgeon General oversees the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, an elite group of over 6,000 uniformed officers who are public health professionals. The USPHS mission is to protect, promote, and advance the health of our nation.”

Today, the public looks to this office for information regarding the state of COVID-19. But did you know that the first Black U.S. Surgeon General was sworn in on September 8th, 1993 and was a woman (only the second woman to head that office since its inception in 1871)?  It’s a fact!  Dr. Minnie Joycelyn Elders was sworn in by President Bill Clinton as the fifteenth Surgeon General of the United States. (See a list and history of the previous Surgeons General)

Minnie Joycelyn Elders was born August 13, 1933 to sharecropping parents (one of eight children) in Arkansas. While she would grow up to be a renowned physician and public advocate, it wasn’t until she was 16 years old that she met her first doctor! Elders and her siblings worked as field laborers and domestic servants and pooled their money together in order to pay for her to attend the Historically-Black liberal arts college, Philander Smith College, in Little Rock. Finding her options severely limited in Jim Crow Arkansas, Elders joined the Army and trained in physical therapy at the Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. After discharge in 1956, she took advantage of the G.I. Bill and enrolled at the University of Arkansas Medical School.

Elders began her studies for a career in medicine one year before the Little Rock Nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957 following the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that declared segregated schools to be unconstitutional. Their enrollment precipitated the tumultuous events that would come to be known as the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas. Elders was forced to endure segregated accommodations during her time in medical school as one of very few Black and/or female students on campus.

Elders did an internship in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, and in 1961 returned to the University of Arkansas for her residency. In no time, Elders became chief resident in charge of the all-white, all-male residents and interns. She must have endured countless instances of racial abuse, sexual harassment, and elitist entitlement. But she didn’t let that deter her! Dr. Elders went on to earn her masters degree in biochemistry in 1967; became an assistant professor of pediatrics at the university’s Medical School in 1971; and ranked as a full professor by 1976. A mere 2 years later, in 1978, Dr. Joycelyn Elders was the first person in the state of Arkansas to become board certified in pediatric endocrinology. Her research and clinical practice focused on mitigating the effects of pregnancy on diabetic girls and young women. As such, Dr. Elders worked with her patients to educate them on their sexual and reproductive health, and offered potentially life-saving family planning resources and information. Dubbed the “condom queen,” she was known for her positions on ensuring sex workers’ access to reproductive health care and making condom available to all public high schoolers.

Using her platform as Surgeon General during a period of “tough on crime” policies that would facilitate the mass incarceration of poor, Black, and other racialized people largely for low-level, non-violent drug offenses, Dr. Elders was ahead of her time in saying: “I do feel that we would markedly reduce our crime rate if drugs were legalized.” President Clinton, however, did not support her position and foreclosed the possibility of a national conversation around drug legalization. One year after her controversial comments, Joycelyn Elders was forced to resign from her Surgeon General post by the Clinton administration. Not long thereafter, in 1996, Elders (with David Chanoff) published her autobiography, Joycelyn Elders, M.D.: From Sharecropper’s Daughter to Surgeon General of the United States of America.

In 2014, former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders teamed up with the Program in Human Sexuality and the Institute for Sexual and Gender Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School to advance comprehensive science-based sexual health education by creating the Joycelyn Elders Chair in Sexual Health Education. The position supports research, scholarship and pedagogy that aims to create comprehensive life-long sexual education curricula, to increase the number of health care providers trained in sexual health care, and to expand scientific research in sexuality education.

In 2020 she was honored by TIME Magazine as one of the historical 100 Women Of The Year.

Regina Stevens-Truss, Director of the HHMI Inclusive Excellence grant & Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry

ARRK – September 2021 Discussion

ARRK September 2021 Discussion with Sarah Lindley

Participants restricted to Kalamazoo College Faculty, Staff, Students, and Administration

A discussion on sections of My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

4-5 p.m. on Tuesday, September 21st
ARRK Meeting space (MS Teams)
Discussion Leader: Sarah Lindley

For September’s ARRK Sarah Lindley leading a discussion of Resma Menakem’s book My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. She will be focusing on the preface through Chapter 1. A PDF of Menakem’s preface and first chapter can be found on the ARRK Teams Meeting Space. Another way to become acquainted with the book is through the On Being podcast episode, Resma Menakem, ‘Notice the Rage; Notice the Silence.’


The AntiRacism Reading Knook (ARRK) is a collaboration between the K College library staff and our Inclusive Excellence (KCIE) leadership team. This initiative is NOT a book club, but seeks to facilitate campus-wide engagement with the books in the KCIE Reading for Change book collection. This collection was created to encourage learning about and facilitate greater access to antiracism information to all members of the campus community.

ARRK aims to:

  1. reduce barrier to entry into reading antiracism books,
  2. identify and highlight campus facilitators with experience teaching and/or disciplinary expertise who can provide context and guide discussions of specific texts,
  3. foster broader relationships among faculty and staff, and thus
  4. build greater capacity for an inclusive campus through sustained and focused engagement with shared texts.
  5. help catalyze members of the campus to engage in small group discussions of entire books in the collection (self-organized book clubs, if you will).

For further information on #ARRK see the KCIE AntiRacism Reading Knook page. To volunteer to lead one of these sessions complete the ARRK Discussion Leader application.

19: This Month in Black History – Black Wallstreet and The Tulsa Massacre

by Dr. Regina Stevens-Truss

Dr. Regina Stevens-Truss

Dear Colleagues, happy summer. I hope this message finds you enjoying your time away/off and that that you are resting and healthy. So much continues to occur in our Nation and the world, that we cannot drop the ball at this point. So, although I promised no story during the summer months, for those of us for whom the work does not stop or take a break, this message is offering an opportunity to continue to educate ourselves on the issues of racism, racist policies, and the destruction of communities.

Documentaries

If you have not seen any of the documentaries about the Tulsa Massacre, they are available at:

Tulsa Race Massacre Reading

This is another sad episode in the growth of this nation, and there are many others like it that need to be told (if you cannot access either film, you can read the History.com Tulsa Race Massacre article. As they say, “history is bound to repeat itself” if we do not know it, study it, and confront its effects head on wherever we see it. Best said by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Stay tuned for a new HHMI IE supported series that will be introduced in August. Stay well,

Regina Stevens-Truss, Director of the HHMI Inclusive Excellence grant & Professor of Chemistry