Reflecting the sentiments by Vice Provost Lisa Freinkel and others, welcome to the University of Oregon and to the Robert D. Clark Honors College. My name is Doug Sam and I am your Common Reading Coordinator for the Honors College and one of the members of the University of Oregon Common Reading Committee.¬†On behalf of all of your fellow students, faculty, and staff here at the CHC, we’re glad you made it!

Between the World and Me represents one of the most beautifully-written, poignant, and difficult common reading selections in the history of the program at the University of Oregon. Ta-Nehisi Coates deals with uncomfortable and emotional histories and realities of our society, our campus, and our individually held conceptions of the world. We wanted to start conversations about diversity, multiculturalism, and racism on our campus and beyond. This book represents our common starting point for thought, reflection, discussion, and scholarship.

With our goals noted, we also recognize that this is not an easy book to read; this is not a comfortable book to read; this is not a book that can settle well when put down. For instance, Coates’ rhetorical use of the body, appearing some 101 times throughout the book, makes the brutality and violence of being a black person in America a visceral experience, even for those of us who do not experience it on a daily basis. And in response, we are left with few, if any, concrete answers. It can be disorienting, disheartening, and angering. I had to start and restart the book at least five times over seven months to read it in its entirety. But, this book is absolutely worth every moment I spent with it, and I hope it delivers for you as well.

When using this blog, please feel free to express your thoughts and respond to others in a respectful and constructive way. We hope you will find it a helpful way to engage with each other and with us over the summer. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to email me at any time.

Go Platypi!

Doug Sam
Common Reading Coordinator