Kritikos Anti-Racist Reading Group

Kritikos engages topics such as writing about the arts, critical studies, translation, the artist in society, and art as speech.

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

James Baldwin

Dear Members of the CVPA Community:

Inspired by mass actions and worldwide protests demanding racial justice, CVPA’s Arts in Context will continue the Kritikos Anti-Racist Reading Group this fall, moderated by Mason faculty members Jessica Kallista and Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, with help from co-organizers, Aishah-Nyeta Brown, Cynthia Fuchs, Jordan McRae, Sang Nam, and Aries Wilson. 

Members of the CVPA community will meet in Fall 2021 for a 90-minute session once a week, but with a goal of long-term commitment to relationship building, awareness, reimagining, transformation, and action, around anti-racist practices, racial justice, and the creation of conversations as well as systems of compassion and healing. We will continue to focus on anti-Black racism and its effects on society. 

Grounded in the knowledge that it is not a question of whether we are racist, but rather, how racism is expressed and experienced in ourselves, our lives, our behaviors, and our institutions, we will explore books, music, art, essays, podcasts, and documentaries that allow us to critically question and consider our roles as artists, thinkers, citizens, and creatives in a society founded on racist values and practices.

Jessica and Kristin

bell hooks
Would you like to make a gift?
Would you like to make a gift?

If you’d like to support the Kritikos Anti-Racist Reading Group, please click on the "Make a Gift" button below. On the form, please select "Additional Comments About Your Gift" and ask that your funds be directed towards the Kritikos Anti-Racist Discussion series. 

Thank you!

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Announcing new dates for Spring 2022
Fridays, 1-2:30 pm, February 18-April 8 (no meeting on March 18)
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Previous Reading Group Information

Fall 2021: Fridays, 1-2:30 pm, October 1- November 12

Summer 2021

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Gallery of Artists and Activists

In our Kritikos Anti-Racist Reading Group we call upon and discuss the work of innumerable Black scholars, authors, activists, artists, musicians, poets, dancers, and playwrights to guide our discussions. Here are just a few of them:

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Rachel Cargle
An activist, academic, writer, and lecturer
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Nikole Hannah Jones
A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and avid journalist
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Titus Kaphar
An American painter, sculptor, filmmaker, and installation artist
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Audre Lord
Was a Black writer, feminist, and activist

Learn More About the People Above From Our Summer 2021 Session

Rachel Cargle

Rachel Cargle is an activist, academic, writer, and lecturer. In her academic and professional work, Rachel Cargle explores the intersection of race and womanhood––challenging the interlocking systems of oppression through intellectual discourses and educational tools and resources. For KARRG, we turn to Rachel Cargle’s work to examine how white women should divorce themselves from white supremacy to become accomplices to BIPOC individuals.

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, an avid journalist, and the creator of the 1619 Project. In the 1619 Project and her other works, Nikole Hannah-Jones moves the reader to confront America’s national hypocrisy and ignored truths regarding systemic racism. For KARRG, Nikole Hannah-Jones and the 1619 Project lay the groundwork in our discussions for exploring a history of system racism in America.

Titus Kaphar

Titus Kaphar is an American painter, sculptor, filmmaker, and installation artist, and the recipient of awards such as the 2018 MacArthur Fellowship and the 2018 Art for Justice Fund grant. In his works, Titus Kaphar investigates contemporary themes and significance in artworks and artforms of the past. For KARRG, we watch Titus Kaphar’s 2017 TED Talk—“Can Art Amend History?”— in which Titus Kaphar whitewashes one of his paintings to shift the viewers’ gaze from an affluent white family to a young brown servant child.

Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde was a Black writer, feminist, and activist who devoted her life and her work to exploring issues of civil rights, racism, feminism, lesbianism, and the Black female identity. In her activism and published works, Audre Lorde centers the importance of liberation for oppressed and marginalized populations, and organizing individuals across differences of race, gender, sexual orientation, and class. In KARRG, we constantly affirm Audre Lorde’s words: “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

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bell hooks
An author, professor, feminist, and social activist
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Dr. Bettina Love
An award-winning author and co-founder of the Abolitionist Teaching Network
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Audre Lorde
An activist and writer

Learn More About the People Above From Past Sessions:

bell hooks

bell hooks is an American author, professor, feminist, and social activist. Having written over 40 books, she is also known for coining the phrase "imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy" to describe the many interlocking systems of oppression active in U.S. society and culture. For KARRG we turn to this phrase in nearly every session often expanding on it as "imperialist white supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy."

Dr. Bettina Love

Dr. Bettina Love is the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia and a pioneer for educating communities on race, education and educators, abolition, and Black joy. She is an award-winning author and co-founder of the Abolitionist Teaching Network, whose mission is to develop and support teachers and parents to fight injustice within their schools and communities. 

Audre Lorde

The Black feminist, Audre Lorde (1934-1992) was a native New Yorker and daughter of immigrants. Both her activism and her published work speak to the importance of struggle for liberation among oppressed peoples and of organizing in coalition across differences of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, age and ability. 

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Ingrid Masonda
A South African photography artist
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Cardi B
An award winning and multi-platinum American hip hop artist
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La Tanya Autry
A cultural organizer in the visual arts
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Megan Thee Stallion
A feminist and an award-winning American hip hop artist

Learn More About the People Above From Past Sessions:

Ingrid Masondo

Ingrid Masondo is a South African photography artist who has worked independently on extensive personal projects, particularly focusing on the body, its habits and practices, and markings and performances. Masondo is an arts, music, and cultural worker, who currently works as the curator of Photography and New Media at the Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town.

Cardi B.

An award winning and multi-platinum American hip hop artist, Cardi B is also a feminist, political activist, philanthropist, and actor. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, she continues to break records through her work and make history through the accolades she receives.

La Tanya Autry

La Tanya Autry is a cultural organizer in the visual arts who centers social justice and public memory in her work. In 2017, she co-founded the global advocacy initiative "MUSEUMS ARE NOT NEUTRAL" with Mike Murawski. The Crossroads of Commemoration: Lynching Landscapes in America is her dissertation that analyzes how individuals and communities memorialize white supremacy models, such as lynching violence in the built environment, concentrates on the interplay of race, representation, memory, and public space.

Megan Thee Stallion

Originally from Houston, Texas, Megan Thee Stallion is a feminist and an award-winning American hip hop artist. Her work embraces female sensuality and confidence, centers female desire and pleasure, and defies stereotypes.

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Susan Moore
Was a Michigan-based family medicine physician
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Kadir Nelson
A Los Angeles-based painter, illustrator, author
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Lorna Simpson
An African American photographer and multimedia artist
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Doreen Gardner
An American sculptor and performance artist

Learn More About the People Above From Past Sessions:

Dr. Susan Moore

Dr. Susan Moore was a Michigan-based family medicine physician who died December 20, 2020 of complications from COVID-19. Dr. Susan Moore died just weeks after posting a video online from her hospital bed accusing a white doctor of denying her requests for pain medication and proper treatment because she was Black.

Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson is a Los Angeles-based painter, illustrator, and author whose work is centered on African American culture and history. His work is best known for being featured on the covers of The New Yorker magazine as well as the album covers of Drake and Michael Jackson.

Lorna Simpson

Lorna Simpson is an African American photographer and multimedia artist who challenges conventional ideas about race, women, and culture. She was awarded the J. Paul Getty Medal in 2019. 

Doreen Garner

Doreen Garner is an American sculptor and performance artist whose work explores the frequent suppressed and traumatic medical histories of the Black body.

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Alice Shepherd
A disabled choreographer and dancer from Britain
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Paulo Freire
A renowned Brazilian educator and philosopher
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Marsha P. Johnson
A transgender woman who fought for LGBTQ rights

Learn More About the People Above From Past Sessions:

Alice Sheppard

Alice Sheppard is a disabled choreographer and dancer from Britain as well as a sought-out speaker engaging on topics related to disability, arts, race and dance. She first began her career as a professor and after watching disabled dancer Homer Avila, she was challenged to take a dancing class and immediately fell in love, and later made her debut with the Infinity Dance Theatre.

Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire was a renowned Brazilian educator and philosopher who was a leading advocate on critical pedagogy. Pedagogy of the Oppressed is Freire's most influential work and leads us in this approach on how we can read the society around us.

Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson was a fearless and bold African American transgender woman who fought for LGBTQ rights and was an outspoken advocate for trans people of color. Despite her struggle with mental illness and often being homeless, she made her way as a drag queen and served as a "drag mother" for homeless and struggling LGBTQ youth.

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Previous Reading Groups

Spring 2021 Reading Lists

February 19-April 9, 2021


Week One
February 19: Race & Medicine

“This Is How Black People Get Killed”: Dr. Susan Moore Dies of COVID After Decrying Racist Care (Democracy Now video): (6:07)

Say her name: Dr. Susan Moore (Washington Post article):

The Tuskegee Study (video) 3:01)

The US medical system is still haunted by slavery (Vox Pro Publica video) (8:49)

Beyond Tuskegee — Vaccine Distrust and Everyday Racism (New England Journal of Medicine)

Meet the Black female scientist at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine development (CBS article and video) (6:25)

Ted Talk: The problem with race-based medicine | Dorothy Roberts (video) (14:36)

Early Data Shows Striking Racial Disparities In Who's Getting The COVID-19 Vaccine (NPR 5-Minute Listen)

Henrietta Lacks (HeLa): The Mother of Modern Medicine (Painting by Kadir Nelson)

Doreen Garner Sculpts Our Trauma | Art21 "New York Close Up" (video) (7:38)

Week Two
February 26—Dismantling the White Gaze Materials

 Facing Difference: The Black Female Body by bell hooks ( PDF from Art on My Mind, pp. 94-100)

The Politics of Radical Black Subjectivity by bell hooks (from Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics, Chapter 2, pp. 15-22)

Discerning Photography’s White Gaze

Nine Black Artists and Cultural Leaders on Seeing and Being Seen: Amy Sherald, Michael R. Jackson and others discuss the challenges and opportunities of cultivating black audiences and dismantling historically white institution.

Beware the white gaze

Black writers courageously staring down the white gaze – this is why we all must read them by Stan Grant

'Fairview' and tackling the white gaze by Hannah Miao

White Savior: The Movie Trailer (Late Night with Seth Meyers video) (5:51)

Week Three
March 5: Cultural Appropriation

What is Cultural Appropriation? by Ijeoma Oluo (Chapter 10 from So You Want to Talk About Race)

Watch This Documentary on Braids and Appropriation in America | ELLE (20 minute video)

We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in Reaction GIFs by LAUREN MICHELE JACKSON

What is Cultural Appropriation? (Video)

7 Myths about Cultural Appropriation DEBUNKED! | Decoded | MTV News

Jessica Krug: Inside the mind of an imposter (Video)


The Long, Painful Legacy Of Blackface In America (HBO)

These Blackface-Wearing, N-Word-Spewing Culture Vultures Would Like to Teach Your Kids About Hip-Hop

Week Four
March 12: Museums Are Not Neutral

Museums Are Not Neutral

African American Artists Are More Visible Than Ever. So Why Are Museums Giving Them Short Shrift?

The Guggenheim’s First Black Curator Is Denouncing the Museum’s Treatment of Her

The Problem with Museums (Video)

The British Museum is full of stolen artifacts (Video)

moCa Curator La Tanya Autry Advocates Museums Are Not Neutral

Former Staffers and Board Members Denounce Racism at Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

The Met Will Turn Down Sackler Money Amid Fury Over the Opioid Crisis

An Instagram Account Is Amplifying Anonymous Testimonies of Racism in Museums

Week Five
March 19: The Black Horizon: Black Womxn, Sex & Power

Constructing Radical Black Female Subjectivities: Survival Pimping in Austin Clarke's The Polished Hoe by Jennifer Thorington Springer (PDF 23 pages)

Why I Speak Up for Black Women. I’m not afraid of criticism, and “Protect Black women” should not be controversial by Megan Thee Stallion

Selling Hot Pussy: Representations of Black Female Sexualtiy in the Cultural Marketplace by bell hooks (PDF Chapter 4 from Black Looks pp. 61-77)

WAP: the summer smash hit that exposed the fear of sexually liberated black women by Michell Chresfield

The Boldly Feminine Gaze of Hiba Schahbaz--Schahbaz’s large-scale paintings, on view in her latest exhibition Dreaming, assert the right to claim and occupy space as a woman

Against the Grain: Black Women and Sexuality by Desiree Lewis 9 (PDF 24 pages)

Zanele Muholi – ‘In My World, Every Human is Beautiful’ | Tate (video)

Week Six
March 26, 2021—Racism & Travel

Life after the ‘Green Book’: What is the future for Black travelers in America? By Glynn Pogue

What Was It Like to Travel While Black During Jim Crow? | 360 Video | Op-Docs (20:08)

The real story of the Green Book (Video 4:16)

[LoveCraft Country Series] S01 E01 Sundown Town Scene (Video 4:35)

This former sundown county expelled 1,100 black residents in a racial cleansing (Video 9:14)

2020 Is the Summer of the Road Trip. Unless You’re Black, by Tariro Mzezewa

Freedom Riders (Video 1:52:28)

Evita Robinson: Reclaiming the globe (Video 6:37)

Week 7
April 9: Radical Self-Care & Loving Blackness

We need more 'trauma-free Blackness.' Here's a start, by John Blake (CNN article)

Loving Blackness as Political Resistance by bell hooks (Chapter 1 from Black Looks pp. 9-20)

The Radical History of Self-Care

Artist Billie Zangewa – the Ultimate Act of Resistance is Self-Love | TateShots



DREAMWEAVERS: In / Conversation - Carrie Mae Weems and Terence Nance (Video)

Nina Simone: That Blackness (Video)

Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, SAINt JHN, WizKid - BROWN SKIN GIRL (Official Video)



Fall 2020 Reading Lists

October 2-November 20, 2020

Week 1: October 2, 2020—Misogynoir


Why you need to know what 'misogynoir' means right now (article) 

What "Misogynoir" Means . . . and Why It Has to End (video) 

End Adultification Bias (Full Version) (video) 

The Uses of Anger by Audre Lorde (essay) 

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House (pdf) by Audre Lorde (essay) 

How to Be an Anti-Racist: Chapter 14: Gender by Ibram X. Kendi

M4BL: End of the War on Black Women (website) 

Doreen Garner Sculpts Our Trauma | Art21 "New York Close Up" (video) 

‘Nobody's Free Until Everybody's Free’: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Legacy Is More Important Now Than Ever (article) 

The problem with celebrating the 19th Amendment: Opinion by Treva B. Lindsey (article) 

Ida B. Wells | The Vote | American Experience | PBS (video) 

The Revolutionary Practice of Black Feminisms

Week 2: October 16, 2020—Reparations


M4BL: Reparations 

The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic article) 

What is Owed by Nikole Hannah-Jones (NYT article) 

We May Be the First People to Receive Reparations for Slavery | NYT Opinion (NYT video) 

Slavery reparations bill debated in US House hearing (The Guardian video)  

‘Stain of slavery’: Congress debates reparations to atone for America's original sin (The Guardian article with video) 

Can reparations help right the wrongs of slavery? (PBS video) 

North Carolina City Will Give Reparations to Black Residents | NowThis (video) 

Reparations, H.R. 40 and the Path Forward (ACLU)

H. R. 40

How Reparations Could Fix The Racial Wealth Gap In America | NBC News NOW (video) 

Six questions about slavery reparations, answered (CNN article) 

Week 3: October 23, 2020—Afrofuturism, Otherwise Worlds, and Freedom Dreaming 


Why should you read sci-fi superstar Octavia E. Butler? - Ayana Jamieson and Moya Bailey (video) 

Excerpt: "Emergent Strategies" - adrienne maree brown (video) 

Sci-Fi Digital Series “Afrofuturism” Sun Ra Part 1 | DUST (video) 

Afrofuturism mixes sci-fi and social justice. Here’s how it works. (video) 

Afrofuturism Explained: Not Just Black Sci-Fi | Inverse (video) 

Otherwise, Ferguson by Ashon Crawley (essay) 

Against the Normative World by Sofia Samatar (interview) 


Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, Chapter 6: KEEPIN’ IT (SUR)REALDREAMS OF THE MARVELOUS by Robin D. G. Kelley 

Freedom Dreaming: A Call to Imagine by Sarah Branch, Downtown Brooklyn Arts Management Fellow 

Freedom Dreaming - Digital Resource Guide 

Week 4: October 30, 2020—Race and Disability


Alice Sheppard 

Alice Sheppard on Disability Dance and Access 

Racism and Ableism 

Children of color with autism face disparities of care and isolation 

Dis/ability critical race studies (DisCrit): theorizing at the intersections of race and dis/ability


Intersectionality & Disability, ft Keri Gray, the Keri Gray Group #DisabilityDemandsJustice (video)

#RaceAnd: Kay Ulanday Barrett (video) 

Week 5: November 6, 2020—Education as Liberation: Anti-Racist Pedagogy


Pedagogy of the Oppressed: Chapter 2—Paulo Friere (full text)

Teaching to Transgress, Chapter 1: Engaged Pedagogy by bell hooks (full text)

Teaching to Transgress, Chapter 4: Paulo Friere by bell hooks (full text)

bell hooks on interlocking systems of domination (4 min video) 

We Want to Do More Than Survive, Chapter 5: Abolitionist Teaching, Freedom Dreaming, and Black Joy by Bettina Love

Creating Inclusive Classrooms (Mason Website) 

“Education Liberates” featuring bell hooks and Bettina Love (1 hr, 30 min video) 

Week 6: November 13, 2020— Black Trans Lives Matter




Black Trans Women Seek More Space in the Movement They Helped Start

Marsha P. Johnson Was a Transgender Rights Pioneer Who Fought for LGBTQ Minorities

Black Trans* Lives Matter | D-L Stewart | TEDxCSU

Thousands Protest in Support of Black Trans Lives in NYC | NowThis (video)

Black Trans Lives Matter: Movement Pushes for Justice & Visibility Amid “Epidemic” of Violence Democracy Now (video)

Diamond Stylz on Why Black Trans Rights Are Civil Rights | The Root

Week 7: November 20, 2020— Black Joy, Self Care & Healing from Racial Trauma


Calm: Do Nothing for 2 Minutes


Talking about Race: Self-Care

Understanding Racial Trauma

How racism makes us sick | David R. Williams

Racism at My Job Literally Gave Me PTSD by Erika Stallings

Audre Lorde reads Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power (FULL Updated)

Kleaver Cruz The Black Joy Project

Dignity and Power Now Healing Justice Toolkit

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Anti-Racist Resources