Children of the People: Writings by and about CUNY students on race and social justice is a collection of essays, play excerpts and poems from students and faculty – in many cases students who became faculty – recounting their journeys, including their glories and defeats and the plaudits and critiques of the university system that has played a central role in their lives. Edited by Rose Kim, Grace Cho and Robin McGinty, the book grew from a project at the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center. This episode is a conversation with Rose Kim, Faculty in Social Sciences, Human Services and Criminal Justice at BMCC, along with two contributors to the volume, Wanett Clyde, library faculty at New York City Tech and Cynthia Tobar, library faculty at Bronx Community College. The book chapters are revelatory, candid, and moving, and Children of the People has the potential to change the attitudes and behaviors of readers. We all agree it should be required reading for anyone, in any role, in higher education.
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P.S. Cynthia Tobar interviewed participants in LaGuardia Community College’s COVID documenting project in May 2021 and the co-directors of Social Practice CUNY in February 2022. She was also one of the BRESI award grantees who shared their projects in October 2022. Cynthia’s project is “Black Lives Matter in Higher Education: Empowering Student-Scholar Voices.”
John Jay College of Criminal Justice colleagues, Richard Relkin, Director of Media Relations, and Evan Mandery, professor in the department of criminal justice, discuss Evan’s new book, Poison Ivy: How Elite Colleges Divide Us (New Press, October 2022). In the book, Evan investigates the many factors that lead to an extremely narrow path to admission to these colleges, one that is de facto available only to the wealthy. In this interview, as in the book, Evan champions public universities such as the one where he has been teaching for more than two decades. “CUNY is a magic place,” says Evan.
Rich Relkin interviewed John Jay’s David Munns in April 2022.
David Puglia, Associate Professor in the Department of English Language & Literature at Bronx Community College, is the editor of North American Monsters: A Contemporary Legend Casebook, published by the University Press of Colorado in Spring of 2022. In this seasonally-themed episode, he talks with Mira Johnson, adjunct professor in the BCC English Dept. and the New York Folklore & Education Network Coordinator at Local Learning. They discuss topics such as the complex and nuanced meanings of terms like legendary, monster, and cryptid, as well as regionality, plausibility, media iterations, and David’s long-lasting relationship to Goatman. Speaking of Maryland fixtures, David was our guest on Indoor Voices in 2019 when he talked with me about his book Tradition, Urban Identity, and the Baltimore Hon: The Folk in the City (Lexington Books 2018). Listening to this episode, you’re guaranteed to learn something about monsters (and the people who follow and study them) and maybe get some ideas for your Halloween costume.
In early September, Chancellor Matos Rodriguez announced the recipients of the newly established Black, Race and Ethnic Studies Initiative (or BRESI) awards. 126 projects across CUNY will be funded from a $10 million gift to CUNY from the Mellon Foundation with the goal of reimagining and expanding the study of race and ethnicity. In this episode, you’ll hear some of the awardees share a fuller description of their projects, illustrating a cross section of the innovative and vital work being carried about by our colleagues around the university. Congratulations to all the awardees.
Click here for a complete list of awardees and award categories. Awardees you’ll hear from in this episode (in this order) include:
William Carr, Medgar Evers College New Course – The Biology of Race
Virginia Diaz-Mendoza, John Jay College Honoring the SEEK Legacy – Moving from Theory to Transformative Practice
Kim Liao, John Jay College Decolonizing the John Jay English Major: Creating Foundational Introductory Courses
Lissette Acosta, Judith Marie Anderson, and Jessica Levin, Borough of Manhattan Community College Black Studies across the Americas
Punita Bhansali and Anuradha Srivastava, Queensborough Community College Addressing Racial Health Inequity through Student Internship Experiences
Robyn Brown Manning, Hunter College Project to Improve Campus Climate: A Space to Breathe
Anna D’Souza, Baruch College Expanding DEI Fridays
Nakia Gray-Nicolas, Craig Michaels, Soribel Genao, and Lenwood Gibson, Queens College Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Social Justice, and Belonging (A/DEISJ+B)
Juan Jose DelaCruz, Lehman College Assessing Quality of Life and Socioeconomic Barriers to Health and Education among Indigenous Migrant Communities (IMC) from Latin America and the Caribbean Living in NYC
Brenda Greene, Medgar Evers College Center for Black Literature Archive Digitalization
Soniya Munshi, Queens College Building Infrastructure for Asian American/Asian Studies and AAPI Communities across CUNY
Nicole McClam, Queensborough Community College CUNY BA in African Diasporic Dance
Toy-Fung Tung, John Jay College Initiatives to Create an Interdisciplinary Asian American/Asian Studies Program
Todd Craig, Medgar Evers College The Sonics of Thin Air: A Sonic Rhetoric Publication
Mary Phillips, Lehman College Sister Love: Ericka Huggins, Spirit, and the Black Panther Party
Gunja Sengupta, Brooklyn College Indexing book, Sojourners, Sultans and “Slaves”: America and the Indian Ocean in the Age of Abolition and Empire
Kirsten Cole, Shawn Grant, and Angela Polite, Borough of Manhattan Community College The Impact of Anti-racist Pedagogy Professional Development
Jayashree Kamble, LaGuardia Community College BIPOC Writers, Editors, and Novels: The Missing Chapters in the Story of Mass-Market Romance
Karen Miller, LaGuardia Community College From Detroit to the Philippines: Circulations of Racial Logics and Struggles for Freedom across Colonial and Postcolonial Geographies over the Long Twentieth Century
Cynthia Tobar, Bronx Community College Black Lives Matter in Higher Education: Empowering Student-Scholar Voices
William Boland, Baruch College The Impact of Minority Serving Institution Grants on College Completion
Jessie Daniels, Hunter College Combatting the Far Right in the Streets, Online and Around the World: A Collaborative, Qualitative Research Project
Vincent Alexander Jones II, York College Health Education and Efficacy to Respond to Violence and other Negative Experiences on Dating Apps Among People of Color and Sexual Minorities: A Qualitative Study
Hiroshi Matsui and Mina Kang, Hunter College Impacting prostate cancer disparity in Black men using RNA nanotherapeutics
Marcela Ossa Parra, Queens College Identity Development Through Autobiographical Genres
Beatriz Carolina Peña, Queens College Manuel Jalla, a Slave from New Spain, Attacks Slavery (Boston, 1708)
Viviana Rivera-Burgos, Baruch College Puerto Rico Public Opinion Laboratory: A Questionnaire Pre-test
Charlotte Walker-Said, John Jay College Militias and Messiahs: A History of Martial and Spiritual Entrepreneurship in Central Africa
Kate Brandt is Professional Development Coordinator in CUNY’s Adult Literacy/ HSE/ESL Programs. You may have a vague sense that CUNY offers such initiatives, so here’s your chance to learn along with me about their robust nature and fundamental value. I talk with Kate about her path to and long tenure at CUNY and how the field of adult literacy has and hasn’t changed in recent decades.
This episode is for animal lovers and for anyone who believes that our connection to non-human animals is much closer than most of us humans think. If this doesn’t describe you, take a risk on being convinced.
Bill Crain is a retired psychology professor from City College and co-founder with his wife, Ellen, of the Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary in Poughquag, New York. He is the author of several books, including The Emotional Lives of Animals and Children: Insights from a Farm Sanctuary. Bill is a gentle, soft-spoken activist who has been arrested and jailed numerous times for protesting black bear hunting in New Jersey. This article provides a good summary and features a visit from Daisy Dominguez. Daisy is a librarian and faculty member at City College and a good friend of Bill and the sanctuary. She took me there to meet Bill and the animals in April, and we got to help feed the pigs and commune with the goats, sheep, chickens, horses and donkeys. I was recording our conversation and the animals’ voices all the while – trying unsuccessfully to have one episode I could call Outdoor Voices – but unfortunately the wind swallowed up the sound. So instead, I had indoor conversations with Bill and Daisy after the fact and tried to recapture some of what we talked about.
This is a collage conversation: First you’ll hear Bill and me talking via Zoom about his life with animals and how it intersects with his teaching. Then Daisy tells me about her evolution to animal activism and veganism. In the final segment, Daisy and I talk again about her teaching and writing and her involvement with the IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) at City College. Stick around to the end of the episode for some audible clips of our actual visit with Bill at the Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary.
Visit the Safe Haven website for more photos, videos and info about the rescued animals. If you are so inclined, please consider making a donation to the farm.
John Jay college’s production of Seeing Rape was presented for the 9th year this past April. The production is a series of short plays addressing sexual violence, written by John Jay students and performed by professional actors. Professors Shonna Trinch and Barbara Cassidy are the producer and director, respectively, but as you’ll hear in this episode, everyone, including the student playwrights, takes an active role in putting the whole thing together, logistically and creatively. The plays are written as a final project for an Interdisciplinary Studies class taught by Professors Trinch and Cassidy. I had the chance to talk with the Shonna and Barbara as well as two of the student playwrights, Camila Martinez and Mayada Moussad. They shared their experiences of the joys and challenges involved in the creation and execution of the production, their hopes for the impact of Seeing Rape, and its effect of their own lives. Visit SeeingRape.com for more information about the project.
Shonna has been both a guest and an interviewer on Indoor Voices previously. Check out Episode 46, where I talk with her and Ed Snajdr about their book What the Signs Say, and Episode 53 where she and Ed talk with the authors of Gentrification Down the Shore.
Nicole Treska’s fiction, reviews and interviews have been published in several literary magazines, and her forthcoming memoir, Wonderland, will be published by Simon & Schuster in the Fall of 2023. She is an adjunct professor at City College, as well as a 2010 graduate of City’s MFA in Creative Writing program. In this episode, she talks with her colleague Michelle Valladares, the director of the MFA program, who was a guest here last Fall. They discuss how Nicole’s book came to be, its road to publication, and about the continuing benefits of the MFA program as a student and as an alumna. Wonderland refers to a Boston location as well as the questions that circle around her family’s complicated history. Michelle, an enthusiastic champion of Nicole and her writing, describes the book as “prose poems put together.” Perceptive, that, because the book, which started out as an “assignment” from a friend, was constructed, as Nicole puts it, by “screaming my life into a Word doc.”
Thank you, once again, to Angela Harden, adjunct professor and general manager of CCNY’s WHCR 90.3 FM: The Voice of Harlem, for the use of a quiet studio for recording this conversation
Far Beyond the Moon: A History of Life Support Systems in the Space Age goes far beyond a prurient – but crucial – interest in the management of human waste in space. In documenting the attempts thus far, the authors, David Munns and Kärin Nickelsen, describe in compelling detail the multi-organism environment that needs to be considered in order for humans to survive in space. In so doing, they illustrate how these efforts are connected to the current climate crisis and the survival of the planet. Full of fascinating history and facts about science fiction, growing crops, gender differences, Biosphere projects, and space toilets, Far Beyond the Moon is an entertaining presentation of provocative ideas that seem well worth the attention of policy makers and billionaires. [FYI, there’s a signed copy available to borrow from the Lloyd Sealy Library; call number TL1500 .M86 2021.]
David is interviewed in this episode by Richard Relkin, John Jay College’s Director of Media Relations. Rich is a not only a fan of sci-fi and sci-nonfi, but a fellow popular culture aficionado. I was impressed by his recently discovered index of his erstwhile magazine, Comic Culture, and am glad he shared it with me so that I could share it here.
Rebecca Shapiro describes the circumstances – starting with voracious and mischievous reading as a young girl – that led to where she is today, an Associate Professor of English and Linguistics in the English Department at New York City College of Technology. She challenges her students and has a great time with them, a fact to which her former student Estephanie Montero can attest. Estephanie – now a student in the B.A. Program in Speech Pathology and Audiology at Lehman College – and Rebecca reunite via Zoom and discuss some of the more memorable assignments from Professor Shapiro’s Language, Culture, and Society class.
During the conversation, Rebecca and Estephanie mention Genie a few times. In case you’re not familiar with her case, you can read about it here. And if you don’t know what a shoe tree is, Rebecca held one up to her computer screen, but you can’t see it. It looks like this.
Here’s another recent interview with Rebecca that delves even more deeply into linguistics. She joins in around the 29 minute mark and, among other things, talks about how dictionaries can be tools of justice.