FOCUS Presents: 'Writing About Our Identities'

Sunday, Sep 13, 2020
by Joe Shipley, Communications Fellow

The Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students is proud to introduce FOCUS, a series of events designed to encourage anti-racist scholarship and action throughout the Princeton community. 

RSVP for the event via this link

FOCUS events offer students and the wider community the chance to participate in meaningful discussions with some of the foremost anti-racist writers, activists, and thinkers in the world. Last month FOCUS, in conjunction with the Undergraduate Student Government, sponsored a book talk with Professors Eddie Glaude and Imani Perry, who used their best-selling books Begin Again and Breathe as a lens through  which to view the current struggles with racial justice and how we can pursue equity in society. Perry and Glaude are continuing this conversation in a course they are co-teaching this fall in the department of African American Studies.

event poster for FOCUS event featuring Tracy K Smith, Morgan Jerkins, and Rakesh Satyal

Our upcoming events include a panel discussion on September 24th at 4:30pm, with Professor Tracy K. Smith, who was named U.S. poet laureate in 2017 and is currently the chair of the Lewis Center of the Arts. She will be joined in conversation with Morgan Jerkins ‘14 and Rakesh Satyal ‘02 to explore the nuances of writing about identity. Jerkins is a visiting professor at Columbia University and a Senior Editor at ZORA. Her acclaimed collection of essays, This Will Be My Undoing was published in 2018 and she followed with Wandering in Strange Lands last month, which was named on numerous lists of the most anticipated books of this year. Rakesh Satyal has established himself as a novelist and editor with a keen eye for the complexities of intersectional identities. In addition to bringing some of the most influential novels and memoirs to the public as an editor at Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and HarperCollins. Satyal currently serves as executive editor at the Harper One Group. His debut novel, Blue Boy, received the Lambda Literary Award. He followed it in 2017 with No One Can Pronounce My Name, a novel about  the power of unexpected friendship. Copies of these works will be  made available to interested Princeton undergraduates.

FOCUS is a central part of a University-wide effort to combat systemic racism. Princeton is recommitting itself to replacing institutional racism with institutional anti-racism. This cannot be accomplished halfheartedly or passively; it requires attention, effort, and dedication. FOCUS is intended to keep anti-racism at the center of campus discourse and to ensure that this effort  remains a priority in the mind of every Princetonian. 

Future FOCUS events will be posted on the ODUS website, and made available via social media, so please continue to visit the site and subscribe to the ODUS Instagram for regular updates.