Campus Culture

Reading Together For a Different World: BMCC’s Radical Reading Group

No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.
― ​Assata Shakur

I remember sitting in BMCC’s town hall meeting about the election of Donald Trump, and after listening to all the things people had to say, thinking, there must be more that we can do. In particular, I wanted a place on campus to discuss ideas about politics and organizing that went beyond quad- or bi-annual voting and progress. After speaking out to lots of folks in the wake of that meeting, a small group of faculty, students, and staff founded the radical reading group.

We are a group dedicated to reading and discussing books that offer visions of a different world. We have been meeting for about three years now. In that time we have read books by (BMCC Alumnus) Assata Shakur, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Michelle Alexander, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Grace Lee Boggs, Ursula K. LeGuin, ​Carla Bergman​ and Nick Montgomery, Susan Stryker, Subcommander Marcos, and ​Zoé Samudzi​, William C. Anderson. We have made reading books by women, queer folk, and people of color a priority, and we makes these choices using a horizontal, consensus-based organizing structure, meaning everyone in the group has equal say in all our processes.

About two years ago, we teamed up with the BMCC Library to ensure that copies of these books are added to the Library’s collection, and students are able to obtain copies of the books for free. The Library has also hosted our meetings and offered us incredible support. I am particularly thankful for all the work Jean Amaral has contributed to this project. We are also delighted to see that while we were the first reading group of this type sponsored by the Library, other types of reading groups are forming on campus.

We meet monthly to discuss the chosen book, and recently have been reading books related to the various history, herstory, pride, and/or heritage months on campus. This semester, we meet on the first Friday of each month from 2-4pm in the Library Reading Nook.

This semester our meetings will include:

  • February 1: ​As Black as Resistance​ by William C. Anderson and Zoé Samudzi
  • March 1: ​Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women ​by Silvia Federici
  • April 5: ​Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China​ by Leta Hong Fincher
  • May 3: ​The Antifa Comic Book: 100 Years of Fascism and Antifa Movements​ by Gord Hill

There are many other CETLS Faculty Interest Groups that do work related to topics we discuss including: Cross-Cultural Approaches to Latino/a Studies, Queer Communities at BMCC, and the Women’s Studies Project.

If you are interested in attending any of our monthly meetings, feel free to come by! For more information, including how to get copies of the featured books, email ​Benjamin Haas​ or Jean Amaral. We can add you to our email list, and you can get in on all our conversations.


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