Deeper Than Our Skins: The Present Is a Conversation with the Past

Deeper than our Skins: The Present Is a Conversation with the Past

Created by Maria Sachiko Cecire, Director of Experimental Humanities and Assistant Professor of Literature, Bard College, in collaboration with Wini Ashooh, Central Rappahannock Regional Library System; Edith Campbell, Cunningham Memorial Library at Indiana State University; and Vanessa "Chacha" Centeno, Sacramento Public Library.

The "Deeper than Our Skins" theme is part of the Great Stories Club series on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation.

About the theme

"The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” As a candidate for president for the United States in 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama used these words to argue that we can only ever truly understand — and begin to overcome — the bitterness of modern race relations in the light of brave and accurate accounting of history. Obama’s line is a slightly altered version of a quote from Southern author William Faulkner; in other words, he turned to literature as a source of wisdom about the difficult subject of race in America, and built upon what he found there to imagine new pathways towards justice, healing, and unity.

The “Deeper Than Our Skins” theme is grounded in literature that can help us look beneath the surface of racism in America to reveal how the past is alive in the present. This theme uses powerful stories of oppression, resistance, suffering, and triumph to identify the roots of racialized experience in the United States, and to inspire discussions around how to construct more equitable futures for the people in our nation and world. Continue reading about this theme.

Reading List

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano
  • Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
  • The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Sonny Liew
  • Mother of the Sea by Zetta Elliott
  • Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. by Luis J. Rodriguez

Programming Materials

Promotional Materials

See Also