Application deadline nears for inaugural racial justice reading circles

February 7, 2022

In an effort to expand the ways in which the university community approaches discussion of racial equity, the Center for Racial Justice has established two reading circles for the winter 2022 term. The reading circles are open to graduate students, faculty, and postdoctoral fellows and will be composed of members with diverse disciplinary perspectives and research interests. Meeting for three sessions from late February to early April, participants will receive a $250 stipend at the end of the semester. Applications are due by February 14 and can be found here.

One reading circle will focus on racism, health, and genetic discrimination, and will be led by Lynette Hammond Gerido of the School of Public Health. Gerido’s research uses population data to visualize health disparities and employs qualitative methods to reveal underlying phenomena, which describe patient health behaviors, decision making and the structural barriers experienced by vulnerable communities. This reading circle will explore the micro- to macro- level hope of genomics and its respective policy implications to revolutionize public health and personalize healthcare while centering Black experiences in the United States. (Meetings will take place virtually, Tuesdays, 5-7pm on February 22, March 8, and March 22.)

Gerido says of the topic, “Our DNA contains the blueprint of our being and footprints of our ancestries. It is a powerful tool for advancing clinical care and improving health outcomes. My research tempers the hope of genomic research with the lived experiences of Black people and communities with African ancestry to reduce the negative consequences of genomic research and to improve racial equity in precision medicine.”

The other reading circle looks at the racial inequities of policing, asking questions about  the policies, practices, and psychological processes that contribute to those racial disparities. Moderated by Jeffrey Morenoff of the Ford School and Nick Camp of Organizational Studies, the reading circle will bring together research—and researchers—from across the social sciences to consider the costs of policing at the individual and community level, and whether policing should be reformed, re-imagined, or abolished altogether. Camp’s work examines the role routine police-citizen encounters play in undermining police-community trust, and Morenhoff’s research interests include neighborhood environments, inequality, crime and criminal justice. (Meetings will take place in-person, Tuesdays, 4-6pm on March 1, March 22, and April 5.) 

Camp notes, “We can’t appreciate the costs of inequity in policing, the forces that contribute to it, or ways to address it from one perspective. This reading circle is exciting because it brings together scholars from different disciplines to consider one of the largest social issues of our time from a range of angles.”

We see the reading circles as interdisciplinary spaces where we can engage in critical discussions about the significance of race and racism in shaping various institutions and life outcomes."

Dr. Celeste Watkins-Hayes

Celeste Watkins-Hayes, director of the Center for Racial Justice, says, “These reading circles present an exciting opportunity for the center to expand its reach beyond the Ford School to cultivate intellectual conversations among scholars and students across the university. We see the reading circles as interdisciplinary spaces where we can engage in critical discussions about the significance of race and racism in shaping various institutions and life outcomes.” 

“We cannot think of two better topics to explore this year than health and policing. What these two reading circles have in common is their focus on how ideas of race and racism underpin and are reinforced by institutions tasked with serving the public good,” adds Associate Director Dominique Adams-Santos