Common Read: Continuing the Conversation

Suggested Reading and Entertainment From UVA Law Affinity Organizations

As a supplement to UVA Law’s Common Read of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” student affinity organizations have provided additional reading, film and entertainment suggestions for community members.

Asian Pacific Law Students Association

  • “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” by Amy Chua
  • Asian Americans,” 2020 PBS miniseries
  • “The Joy Luck Club,” by Amy Tan
  • “The Paper Menagerie,” by Ken Liu
  • “The Farewell,” 2019 film

“Honorable Mention to ‘Parasite’ (2019 film): While this work swept the Oscars, is very mainstream and popular, and has obvious artistic merit, many of the themes, which are universally applicable, are specific reactions/critiques of South Korean society. In terms of picking a work that helps to showcase ‘institutional and cultural barriers’ and ‘adds complexity and nuance to stereotypes and caricatures,’ I personally thought that a work focused on the Asian-American experience would help make UVA a more sensitive environment.”

Black Law Students Association

  • “So You Want to Talk About Race,” by Ijeoma Oluo
  • “Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race,” by Renni Eddo-Lodge
  • “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” by Robin DiAngelo
  • “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria,” by Beverly Tatum 
  • “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” by Ibram X. Kendi
  • “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi 
  • “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson 
  • “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide,” by Carol Anderson
  • “Citizen: An American Lyric,” by Claudia Rankine
  • “Racism Without Racists,” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
  • “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness,” by George Lipsitz
  • “Angry White Men: American Masculinity At the End of an Era,” by Michael Kimmel
  • “We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom,” by Bettina Love
  • “Are Prisons Obsolete?” by Angela Davis
  • “Notes of a Native Son” and “The Fire Next Time,” by James Baldwin
  • “Faces at the Bottom of the Well,” by Derrick Bell
  • “Slavery by Another Name: The Reenslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II,” by Douglas A. Blackmon
  • “Autobiography of Malcolm X: As told to Alex Haley”
  • “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” Kimberle Williams Crenshaw

First-Generation Law Students

The student organization recommends “narratives that shed light on the first-generation experience, under various definitions."

  • “The Namesake,” by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • “Hillbilly Elegy,” by JD Vance
  • “Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League,” by Dan-el Pidalla Peralta

Jewish Law Students Association

  • “Antisemitism Here and Now,” by Deborah Lipstadt 

“Written by Deborah Lipstadt, a Professor of Jewish History at Emory and a leading scholar tracing the origins of the Holocaust denial movement, [this book] charts the ever-evolving manifestations of anti-Semisitm in the present day, including the 2017 White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville. Lipstadt's work is comprised of a series of letters between a Jewish college student, Abigail, and a non-Jewish law school professor, Joe.”

  • “Here I Am,” by Jonathan Safran Foer

“‘Here I Am’ tells the story of a Jewish family in Washington, D.C., and grapples with Jewish identity, connection, and meaning in the Diaspora. One of our members said ‘if you want to understand us, try this.’”

  • “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

“Often referred to endearingly as ‘Curb,’ [the show] is a sitcom by Larry David pretending to be a fictional version of himself. David's day-to-day adventures and follies delve into many facets of Jewish culture, particularly Jewish humor, and history.”

Lambda Law Alliance

  • “Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen”

"This Netflix documentary showcases how the media has treated trans people throughout film's history. It discusses some of the worst and best treatments of trans people, what film could do better, and which voices, such as Black trans women, need more and better representation on the screen."

  • “Moonlight”

“Winner of the 2017 Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Mahershala Ali), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Barry Jenkins, screenplay, and Tarell Alvin McCraney, story), this film about a young black man coming of age explores themes of identity, sexuality, family, masculinity, and more.”

  • “Stone Butch Blues,” by Leslie Feinberg

“Published in 1993, this ‘internationally acclaimed novel looks at the world through the eyes of Jess Goldberg, a masculine girl growing up in the “Ozzie and Harriet” McCarthy era and coming out as a young butch lesbian in the pre-Stonewall gay drag bars of a blue-collar town.’ The story ‘traces a propulsive journey, powerfully evoking history and politics while portraying an extraordinary protagonist full of longing, vulnerability, and a working-class grit.’ (quotation from book jacket)”

  • “Pose”

“A fictional Netflix series centering [around] Black trans women in the 1980s New York ballroom scene.”

  • “Rafiki”

“This 2018 film directed by Wanuri Kahiu follows the love story of two young women in Kenya, where homosexuality is illegal. Originally banned in the country for its positive portrayal of a lesbian relationship, ‘Rafiki’ was the first Kenyan film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival.”

Law Christian Fellowship

“These recommendations explore the perspectives, faith, and lives of exemplary Christians in society whose examples many modern Christians seek to follow.”

  • “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“This famous letter, written to Dr. King's fellow clergy, is steeped in Biblical references and Christian theology. It discusses, among many themes, the justness and unjustness of laws, the morality of civil disobedience, and the role of religion and faith in society.”

  • "Welcome to America," by Lecrae

“This song channels the hope, disappointment, fear, and anger of the victims of injustice in American society. It draws directly from Christian themes and morality. Beyond his work as a hip hop artist, Lecrae leads national discussions on racial justice and faith.”

  • “Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness,” by Eric Metaxas

“This book examines the lives and faith of seven women who changed the course of history: Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie ten Boom, Mother Teresa, and Rosa Parks.”

  • “The Cost of Discipleship,” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“This book discusses Christ's call to sacrifice and moral consistency. Its author, a Lutheran pastor, theologian, and anti-Nazi dissident in 1930s Germany, was martyred for his involvement in an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler and overthrow the Nazi regime.”

  • “The Good News About Injustice,” by Gary Haugen

“This book considers the Christian mission to confront and battle injustice. The author recalls his time working for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, prosecuting perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide, and founding International Justice Mission, a Christian NGO that combats human trafficking.”

Middle Eastern and North African Law Student Association

  • “Look,” by Solmaz Sharif (collection of poems)

“Look speaks to the experiences of many folks of Middle Eastern descent in the post 9/11 world and highlights the devastating impacts of the American intervention in the MENA region.”

  • “The Arab-American Handbook,” by Nawar Shora

“‘The Arab-American Handbook’ provides an extensive collection of short essays on various MENA topics ranging from being ‘white-passing’ to combating stereotypes.”

  • “Ramy” (Hulu series)

“‘Ramy’ depicts an Egyptian-American millennial trying to juggle his religion, cultural identity, and own sexual and spiritual desires and views in hilarious fashion. It shows parts of the MENA community's identity that were previously overlooked by the mass media.”

  • “Taxi,” directed by Jafar Panahi

“‘Taxi’ provides a glimpse into life in contemporary Iran, a place that has been over-politicized and resultantly dehumanized in the United States, and shows how different the reality is from the stereotypes. The same can be said of the other countries in the MENA region.”

Muslim Law Students Association

  • Ramy, TV show

“Ramy highlights the struggles some young Muslim-Americans face in remaining true to their faith while navigating modern American life. It is a funny, sometimes disturbing, but entirely honest TV show. Importantly, the show doesn't force its main character to be a positive distillation of all Muslims - the show's creator, Ramy Youssef, explicitly rejects the idea that he is supposed to represent all Muslims. Instead, the show should be understood as one small slice of American Muslim life.”

  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist, book and movie

“The Reluctant Fundamentalist challenges some of the assumptions of post-9/11 America and American policies while remaining open to interpretation based on the preconceptions of the reader. It is a moving and thoughtful story of 9/11 and identity formation.”

  • Ali's Wedding, movie

“Ali's Wedding is a Muslim Rom-Com that like Ramy, satirizes and explains some of immigrant/Muslim experience. Set in Australia, the movie is also notable for its Shia main characters, as most popular media depicting Muslims in the US is about Sunnis, the majority tradition practiced by most Muslims today.”

“regarding the erasure of Islam and religious principles from the poetry of Rumi. Popular media in the US often paints achievements in Islamic art, poetry, and literature as though such accomplishments came despite Islam, and this article is a good introduction to a more balanced viewpoint. MLSA would also like to generally suggest greater familiarity with Islamic architecture and art, such as mosques and visual paintings. Islamic art is sometimes wrongly described as prohibiting the depictions of the human form, when only a glance at Persian and South Asian miniatures would prove that view incorrect. One place to start could be the book Mosque by David Macaulay.”

Rex E. Lee Law Society

“Generally speaking, one of the primary barriers faced by RELLS’ membership is misconceptions about the membership and doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Thus, many of these recommendations aim to assuage misunderstanding and correct common misconceptions.”

“This 2014 documentary showcases several members of the Church to illustrate both unique aspects of being a Church member and also that the day-to-day lives of Church members are not much different from those of others.”

“This web page provides an overview of what members of the Church believe.”

“This news article was written against the backdrop of Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential run. It is helpful in identifying and correcting some common misconceptions about the Church.”

“Patterned after the temples from the Old and New Testament, the Church builds temples around the world where members participate in sacred ordinances. This collection of photographs highlights the importance of temple work to Latter-day Saints and is also symbolic of the Church's worldwide reach and diverse membership.”

“Church President Russell M. Nelson has recently encouraged all to use the correct name of the Church--the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — as opposed to the nickname, ‘Mormons.’ RELLS' membership would like to share this recent invitation and encourage correct usage of the Church's name.”

South Asian Law Student Association

  • “Master of None,” Season 1, Episode 4 ("Indians on TV")

“The recommending member shared: ‘This episode really hit me to my core. It's about stereotyping and the kinds of barriers that Indians face in entertainment — and in broader professional life, in general.’”

  • “Interpreter of Maladies,” by Jhumpa Lahiri

"It's a collection of short stories about South Asian immigrants' experiences (largely personal, but also some professional) in the U.S. The book won a Pulitzer, and I think it reflects the personal and professional struggles for South Asians.

“As a bonus: ‘The Namesake,’ also by Jhumpa Lahiri, is an aggressively relatable chronicle of the adolescent experience for young South Asians growing up in the U.S., and the waves of attendant culture clash. Lahiri deftly explores the ways in which this nebulous, interstitial cultural pocket implicates everything from superficial decision-making to more trenchant concerns regarding family, romance, and heritage. It was the first time I'd ever 'seen' myself in a novel.”

  • “Burnt Shadows,” by Kamila Shamsie

“A book by a British author, it highlights the evolution of identity — especially for immigrants — and the feeling of 'foreignness' in a cosmopolitan setting.”

  • “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” by Mohsin Hamid

“The book not only highlights some of the struggles faced by South Asians/Muslims in a post-9/11 America, but also leaves a lot open to subjective interpretation, introducing the audience to their own biases and perceptions.”

  • “Thinner than Skin,” by Uzma Aslam Khan

“This book deals with issues of belonging and identity crisis within the South Asian diaspora in America; the author Uzma A Khan is a female Pakistani-American writer, which is fairly rare to come across in the world of fiction, and offers a perspective we don’t generally see as much.”

St. Thomas More Society

  • “A Man for All Seasons” (movie)

“We chose ‘A Man for All Seasons’ because of its depiction of someone living (and dying) for what he believed was right, and remaining kind and good of heart through everything he experienced.”

  • “Orthodoxy,” by G. K. Chesterton

“‘Orthodoxy’ was chosen because it presents a personal journey from atheism to Christianity, addressing the stereotype that our beliefs just come from our parents or upbringing.”

  • “The Imitation of Christ,” by Thomas á Kempis

“‘Imitation of Christ’ was chosen because it takes Catholicism from a set of rules, often viewed as rigid or irrational, to a lived faith that calls for charity to others and peace in knowing God.”

  • “Saint Damien of Molokai: Apostle for the Exiled,” by Margaret and Matthew Bunson

“We chose ‘Saint Damien’ because of its depiction of sacrificial love, to which all Catholics are called in one way or another, and the trials and joys that come with it; in particular, many people, including a lot of Catholics, don't understand this calling, and this book presents one example of it.”

  • “Values in a Time of Upheaval,” by Joseph Ratzinger

“Finally, ‘Values in a Time of Upheaval’ is meant to explain that our beliefs come from reasoned bases of philosophy and theology, rather than simply clinging to yesterday's ideas or old traditions.”

Virginia Law Women

  • Audre Lorde, “Who Said It Was Simple” from "From a Land Where Other People Live"
  • Kimberle Crenshaw’s “Intersectionality at 30 Lecture at LSE,” available as a video on Facebook and as a podcast
  • Tony Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”
  • “The Henna Artist,” by Alka Joshi
  • “On the Basis of Sex” (2018)

Alternate options: “First: Sandra Day O’Connor,” “Hidden Figures” (2016), Degraffenreid vs. General Motors, “Little Fires Everywhere” (TV series), “Mrs. America” (TV series), or “A Woman's Work” (3-minute trailer, password: cheersforchange20).

Women of Color

  • “The Wretched of the Earth,” by Frantz Fanon

“This book presents the consequences of colonization and how those who have faced colonization reach liberation.”

  • “White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” by Robin DiAngelo

“This book argues how people’s negative reactions to challenges on their beliefs regarding race further perpetuate racial inequality.”

  • “Me and White Supremacy,” by Layla Saad

“This book highlights how to be a better and more effective ally for people of color.”

  • “Algorithms of Oppression,” by Safiya Umoja Noble

“This book considers a relatively novel aspect of the overall discussion of oppression and particularly considers the experiences of women of color.”

  • “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex,” by Kimberlé Crenshaw

“This work brings to light the important idea of what intersectionality is. It particularly addresses the experience of women of color by considering the unique and combined oppression women of color face.”