SLAM and St. John’s University of Law host Black history book club


Students discussed Kendi’s themes of antiracism in Unity Lounge

Katherine Daly and Jocelyn Arroyo-Ariza

 The Student Leader Alliance for Multiculturalism (SLAM) hosted Black history book club in collaboration with St. John’s University School of Law on Zoom and in the Unity Lounge on Feb. 2. This interesting new partnership showcasing Black authors will focus on important topics throughout the spring semester. Students were not required to read the book as these talks are open to everyone.  

Chyanne Blakely, the chair of SLAM, is enthusiastic about the book club.  

“I am excited to be part of something new in Iona,” said Blakey. “We were approached by St. John’s University to celebrate wonderful authors and truly interesting ideas.” 

This week, students listened and discussed the themes behind the book “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definite History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi. The non-fiction novel examines race in the United States by its author, a historian. In 2016, the book won the National Book Award for Nonfiction. Kendi’s book is in chronological order starting from pre-colonial times to today. He writes concerning the themes of racists, assimilationists and antiracists. He concludes by urging readers to become antiracist. “Stamped from the Beginning” has two versions for children and teenagers.  

Several guest speakers spoke, giving insight into how they felt about the history of racist ideas in America. The biggest points they were trying to get across were hope and inspiring a younger generation for a better future. 

During the Zoom call, the audience was broken into smaller groups where they reflected on how they can create a better future. Iona students spoke to retired journalist Jamine M. Torsiello from New Jersey about the relationship between racism and antiracism. The conversation then shifted directions to how students need to be aware of modern history and to change, becoming better in the process.