Each year, incoming Oxy students are asked to read a summer common reading text. The summer common reading is a way to join new students, faculty, and staff in a conversation about the selected book or other materials.
At Oxy, we envision these readings as an important first step in building and participating in an intellectual community. The goals of the summer common reading are to stimulate discussion and critical thinking on topics of contemporary relevance, as we enhance our connections to one another and provide a common experience for new students.
The 2019 summer common reading discusses race, racism, white supremacy and intersecting forms of oppression. This multimedia collection of texts is prompted by this Spring’s national conversation about blackface. As you may recall, many colleges and universities around the country, including Oxy, uncovered troubling images from the past that featured blackface or other racist tropes. The analysis of these issues around racial representation as presented in the summer common reading are connected to the 2019-2020 Core Program theme of "excellence, equity, community and service," the four cornerstones of Oxy's Mission. We understand there are many other issues and ideas around identity and representation that are connected to the Mission, we have decided to focus on race in this year's summer common reading.
There will be opportunities to engage in discussion of these materials and their topics throughout your first year, starting with orientation and continuing through the 2019-2020 CSP Lecture series in Thorne Hall in the fall. We expect you to watch, read, and listen to the following materials before orientation begins on Thursday, August 22.
Please select on the title of each piece to access it. In some cases, you will be required to login to your oxy.edu email account in order to do so.
- Staples, Brent. "How Blackface Feeds White Supremacy." New York Times (April 3, 2019).
- Baldwin, James. "On Being White... And Other Lies." Excerpt from Black on White: Black Writers on What It Means to Be White. (Ed. David R. Roediger), New York: Shocken Books, 1998. [5 pages].
- Haney López, Ian. "White Lines." Excerpt from White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race, New York: New York University Press, 2006. [26 pages+9 pages of footnotes].
- Thompson-Spires, Nafissa. "Heads of the Colored People: Four Fancy Sketches, Two Chalk Outlines, and No Apology." Excerpt from Heads of the Colored People, New York: 37Ink/Atria, 2018. [14 pages].
Video (Please note there are images and depictions which may be disturbing to some viewers)