Diversity Wins, Diverse Books, UC Davis

November 7, 2018

Tuesday’s 2018 midterm elections saw a historic shift not only in voter turnout, but in the diversity of the winning candidates. In Connecticut, Jahana Hayes has become the first Black woman elected to the House of Representatives, while Marsha Blackburn became Tennessee’s first female senator. Michigan and Minnesota voted in Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, respectively, making them the first Muslim women elected to Congress. After a momentous victory in the Democratic primary back in June, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—a Latina—has become the youngest-ever woman elected to Congress, while at the time this post was written,Young Kim of California was on track to becoming the first Korean-American woman in Congress. Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland have both made history by becoming the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Davids is also a lesbian, making her Kansas’ first openly LGBTQ congressional representative. Ayanna Pressley, who will now be Massachusetts’ first Black congresswoman, remarked in her victory speech, “When it comes to women of color candidates, folks don’t just talk about a glass ceiling, what they describe is a concrete one. But you know what breaks through concrete? Seismic shifts.”

Diversity wins: All the people who made history in the 2018 midterm elections, by John Haitiwanger and Bill Bostock of Business Insider

‘Mr. President, here we come:’ Victory speeches roll in, by AP News


Eighty-one percent of school librarians consider it “very important” to have a diverse collection of books for children and teens, and 68 percent say they’re buying more diverse books than before, according to a new survey by the School Library Journal. A librarian in Maine wrote, “As a teen librarian in the whitest state in the union, I feel it is my duty to not have the collection reflect my community, but rather to reflect the wider world.” Some librarians, though, are struggling to find the kind of diverse books they need. It’s still hard to find books about people with disabilities, Native or Indigenous people, English Language Learners, and intersectional identities like Black Muslims—a group one librarian says isn’t represented at all in books by major publishers. Librarians also struggle to find enough books with “non-historical portrayals of various cultures and ethnicities,” and ones that dispel stereotypes and “single story” narratives. One librarian says kids just want to see themselves in the books they read. She calls for “books where there are kids or teens just living life while black/gay/trans/fat/Muslim”—books that don’t ignore the challenges faced by minority youth, but that also don’t expect such characters to always “teach something bigger than themselves.”

Can Diverse Books Save Us?  In a divided world, librarians are on a mission,  by Kathy Ishizuka for School Library Journal

With the help of campus funds and a University of California system-wide financial investment in faculty diversity, UC Davis is holding eight open searches for diverse faculty members. What makes their approach unique is that “instead of…focusing on a particular disciplinary expertise, search teams will look for candidates with proven commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion among underrepresented groups.” UC Davis will pay up to $85,000 of each new hire’s salary for the first five years, leaving any remainder to individual schools and colleges. Vice Provost Philip H. Kass explains that “faculty may be hired in disciplines that departments had not contemplated but now want,” echoing Professor Roland Faller’s sentiment that an open-search process is “a really a good way to foster interdepartmental collaboration and increase diversity at the same time.” Distinguished University of Michigan professor Abigail Stewart, who has written extensively about the connection between open searches and diversity, commends UC Davis and notes that the key is “how the search process is managed on the ground, not just the creation of the apparently open position.”

Open Searches and Diversity, by Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed