From Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi, Tell Me Who You Are: Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, and Identity (2019).
- “ A Brief History of Whiteness,” pp. 8-10 (the reading can be found here--scroll down to pages 8-10)
- “Chapter 1: Race Impact Everything,”pp. 11-50. This chapter can be found here.
We’re going to take a look at what I think is an uber-cool book by two women, Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi, who graduated from high school in Princeton, New Jersey, and took a gap year to write it.
The book is called Tell Me Who You Are: Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, and Identity and it was published just before the pandemic, in 2019. The women who wrote it became interested in exploring this topic in depth after the murder of Eric Garner in 2014 and a discussion that followed in their 10th grade history class. At first, they formed a club--called CHOOSE--as a way to explore racial literacy. As a professor they consulted described it, “racial literacy is developing a historical + sociological tool kit to understand how we got here and how it could’ve been/CAN BE otherwise.” And they began collecting stories...and stories….and stories, mostly from folks in New Jersey and New York.
One of the results was this book, first published as a textbook called The Classroom Index, which got considerable buzz thanks to Teen Vogue and a boatload of social media. That motivated the two to fundraise to support taking a year off without working pre-college to travel across the United States--from Anchorage, Alaska to Charlottesville, Virginia--and get….more stories.
In the introduction to the book, Priya + Winona let us inside their thinking:
“Our heads throb and our hearts hurt when we think about the stories we have heard. Many are tragic. Many are hopeful. Most detail lives we have never imagined and still cannot imagine.
The stories leave us feeling disturbed. Touched. Tired. Energized. Sad. Optimistic. Angry. Compassionate. More than anything, they leave us urgently wanting to make sure these stories are heard. As we have traveled, we have learned that racial literacy never stops. We--including the two of us--can all learn more about who we are.”
<b>The post: </b>
We will look at more parts of this book in class on Wednesday. But for this post, I ask you to address the following:
Winona + Priya state that “race and racism inescapably impact everything around us. Even the very existence of the United States demanded their presence.” (12) They go on to say “race is a cancer that impacts every part of our lives.” (13) Their inquiry + book starts from the notion that this is true and proceeds from that assumption.
- Do you agree with Winona + Priya’s assumptions or do you want to challenge some part of what they believe about the role of race? Why or why not?
- Identify one (1) first-person account from this first chapter in the book that says something that, in your view, is important about race and identity. Identify the person you select and share with us
(a) a brief summary of what each person said and
(b) why you think it’s important/significant/noteworthy (your choice).
- IMO, among the cool things about this book are the eye-opening factoids/information details that appear in the margins, as if they are footnotes OR side-references, OR commentary. Select at least 2 of those and lift them up in the post by
(a) VERY briefly summarizing the factoid/information and
(b) why you think more people should know about this.
- If you like or dislike this book ….so far….say so! Tell us why you feel the way you do about it.
Be sure to divide your post into paragraphs. Paragraphs are your friend and they make your post much more readable. Thank you in advance for making this reader-friendly.