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Page Turners for the Times

Want to Learn More About Opposing Systemic Racism? VP for Diversity and Inclusion Shares 5 Recommendations

By Liam Farrell

Collage of book covers, including "The New Jim Crow," "Daring Greatly," "Stamped From the Beginning," "Dog Whistle Politics" and " White Fragility"

Georgina Dodge, UMD’s vice president for diversity and inclusion, shared her reading list for anyone seeking to learn more about racial history and politics.

Georgina Dodge, UMD’s vice president for diversity and inclusion, shared her reading list for anyone seeking to learn more about racial history and politics.

Just as the novel coronavirus pandemic has spurred interest in books about the 1918 influenza, the recent protests against police brutality have turned reading lists into newly viral content.

The New York Times nonfiction bestseller list is reflecting a new interest in race history and theory these days, with sales of years-old volumes soaring past memoirs, biographies and self-help books.

“We are in a space to understand that there is this parallel disease that is infecting us,” said Georgina Dodge, UMD’s vice president for diversity and inclusion.

In addition to being a first-generation college student who served in the Navy and has done diversity work at Bucknell, Ohio State and Iowa universities, Dodge earned her Ph.D. in literature. She shared her own reading list with Maryland Today for anyone seeking to learn more about racial history and politics.

“Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi
This National Book Award-winning history of the development of racism in Western society “is phenomenal,” Dodge said, and a good place for anyone to start. Another of Kendi’s books, “How to Be an Antiracist,” has taken on new importance, and “anything that he writes is a great read,” Dodge said.

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander
Dodge met Alexander when both worked at Ohio State, and said this study of how the war on drugs and criminal justice system eviscerate communities of color guided a lot of her work. “It’s really opened the eyes of a lot of organizations and advocacy groups on the issues of policing and incarceration,” Dodge said.

“Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class” by Ian Haney López
In what Dodge calls a “great warning book,” López shows how coded racial appeals are used to get people to support policies against their own interests. “There are so many examples in this book that made the hair on my arms stand up,” she said. “It’s pretty scary how our language and culture get used against us.”

“White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo
Dodge has often sent this 2018 book—now skyrocketing in popularity—to white colleagues who get promoted into leadership roles. She recalled one friend who sent her texts that bounced between love and frustration for the book about how anger, fear and guilt reinforce racial prejudice. “It’s a challenging read for all the right reasons,” Dodge said. “Self-work is critical to engage in these conversations.”

“Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brené Brown
While traditional notions of leadership don’t account for vulnerability, Dodge said exploring such feelings are important in the midst of public health and racial crises that can cause sadness and shame. Brown’s book is a guide to reframing emotions like fear and grief that are too often seen as weaknesses. “It’s really important for people not to feel overwhelmed or that they are completely helpless,” Dodge said.

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