MCC Daily Tribune
President's Wednesday Message
Over the next month at MCC, you will have the opportunity to hear from the authors of two of the most lauded works of nonfiction of the past few years: Amy Goldstein, Janesville: An American Story (November 15) and Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (November 30). Both books have significant relevance for the challenges facing our community inside and outside of MCC, and I wanted to call them to your attention in advance of the speakers' visits.
The American story traced by Amy Goldstein, a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter for the Washington Post, is one of economic decline. In 2008, GM closed its Janesville, Wisconsin, plant, which was the heart of the city's economy: middle class jobs that had secured families' financial futures for generations disappeared overnight. Goldstein follows Janesville and its residents for four years as both the town and its people struggle to hold on to what has been lost and to find a new path forward. When I read Janesville this summer, I saw the story of Upstate New York. Whether Kodak in Rochester, Bethlehem Steel in Buffalo, Carrier in Syracuse, ALCOA in Massena--the end of traditional manufacturing has reshaped our communities. Goldstein humanizes this seismic economic shift and honors the stories of those who are struggling to make their way in a fundamentally changed world. You can see a short PBS News Hour story about Janesville that includes an interview with Goldstein here.
Ibram X. Kendi's book provides a history not of racism but of the racist ideas that make racism possible. While we often label racist ideas as "ignorant," Kendi finds them to be intentional and strategic, designed by intellectuals throughout the centuries to justify discrimination for purposes of power and wealth. These racist ideas then begin to drive thinking and policies that result in system and structural racial inequity. His book is cogent and compelling; it goes well beyond a recounting of history to a call on all of us to change the future by exposing and rejecting racist ideas. We booked Kendi soon after he won the National Book Award in fall 2016, and he was originally scheduled to visit last spring--before a winter storm cancelled classes and all flights. His presentation this semester has now taken on a greater sense of importance and purpose. You can watch a brief interview Ibram X. Kendi did about Stamped from the Beginning at the Miami International Book Fair here.
My thanks to the departments, offices, and organizations that are sponsoring Amy Goldstein and Ibram X. Kendi. You can get free tickets to both presentations, and I hope you will attend.
As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts on the blog.