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WITS Study Hall is a collaborative learning space for adult learners to actively participate in antiracist conversation and enjoy the works of writers of color. We will focus not just on antiracist discourse, but celebrate the range of genres and stories by BIPOC authors.

WITS Study Hall will explore one book every two months and is open to all readers. You can sign up to join our virtual meetings, or use this framework to start your own book club. We’ll provide the book selection, discussion questions, and supplemental resources. Whatever your engagement, we hope you join us in this important reading.

CURRENT BOOK

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The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

THE BLACK FLAMINGO

On February 18th, for our second public meeting, we will read and discuss The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, a British poet of Greek Cypriot and Caribbean descent.

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen - then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers - to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS - THE BLACK FLAMINGO


Keep in mind the following discussion questions to get you thinking as you read:

One

Michael has different names at different points in his life—some he is given, some he chooses for himself.
How do the different names relate to Michael and his relationships?

Two

When Daisy asks Michael to protect her from the lesbians (pg. 176) at the club, Michael angrily calls out
her homophobia; yet he is far less decisive about calling out her racism. What do you make of this
difference in response?

Three

When Michael cuts his locks (pg. 268), he says “I’m shedding / something other / people use to define / me,
falling to my feet.” How do people in the book use Michael’s locks to define him?

Four

Performance is a major theme in Michael’s story. What different kinds of performance are happening and
how do they impact Michael’s life?

SUPPLEMENTAL RESOURCES - THE BLACK FLAMINGO

These additional resources will help integrate learning from our book of the month with current events, art, media, and politics. They may be referenced during WITS Study Hall meetings, so check them out!

Help us choose our next book

We would like your help in deciding what book we will read for our December meeting. You can choose more than one option.

Don't forget to sign up to attend the next meeting.

Our next meeting


February 18th, 2021


5:30-6:30pm CST


Zoom Link will be emailed



Sign up to attend

Please fill out this form to sign up for the next Study Hall meeting


  • We will use this number to text you reminders about meetings.

PREVIOUS BOOK

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HOMEGOING BY YAA GYASI

HOMEGOING

On December 17th 2020, for our first public meeting, we read and discussed Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a Ghanaian-American novelist.

Homegoing traces the descendants of half- sisters, Effia and Esi, across continents and centuries. Its power lies in showing, on a very individual scale, the effects slavery had on millions of lives. As the New York Times said, “The book leaves the reader with a visceral understanding of both the savage realities of slavery and the emotional damage that is handed down over the centuries.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS - HOMEGOING


Keep in mind the following discussion questions to get you thinking as you read:

One

Evaluate the title of the book. Why do you think that the author chose the word Homegoing? What is a homegoing and where does it appear in the novel? In addition to the term’s literal meaning, discuss what symbolic meanings or associations the title might have in terms of a connection with our place of birth, our ancestors, our heritage, and our personal and cultural histories.

Two

Explore the theme of belief. What forms of belief are depicted in the book and what purpose do these beliefs seem to serve for the characters? Does the author reveal what has shaped the characters’ beliefs? Do these beliefs seem to have a mostly positive or negative impact on the believer and those around them?

Three

Evaluate the treatment and role of women in the novel. What role does marriage play within the cultures represented in the novel and how are the women treated as a result? Likewise, what significance does fertility and motherhood have for the women and how does it influence their treatment? How different would you say the treatment and role of women is today?

Four

Consider the book’s treatment of colonialism and imperialism. Have the issues surrounding colonialism, imperialism, freedom, and human rights featured in the book been resolved today or do they linger? If they remain, does the book ultimately offer any suggestions or advice as to how this might be remedied?

SUPPLEMENTAL RESOURCES - HOMEGOING

These additional resources will help integrate learning from our book of the month with current events, art, media, and politics. They may be referenced during WITS Study Hall meetings, so check them out!

SOCIAL MEDIA

Tag @witschicago and use #WITStudyHall to let us know you’re reading along with us!

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