15 ways to learn more about diversity this year

Recommendations from public health students, faculty, staff

Denise Blough
Collage of book and podcast covers

The first step to becoming less biased and more open to and inclusive of people from all backgrounds is to become educated.

The College of Public Health has championed this idea through its Community of Inclusion program for students, faculty and staff, which serves to advance participants’ understanding of diversity, equity and inclusive excellence through readings, trainings and other opportunities to expand knowledge.

We talked to members of our community to get their recommendations on the books, webinars, podcasts and documentaries that have shed the most light for them on issues of diversity, systemic racism and injustices, health inequities and more. 

Mahrukh Naqvi, BSPH student

Mahrukh Naqvi

1. The podcast “Unlocking Us” by Brené Brown is about the unique experience of being human. It’s a culmination of work on navigating difficult situations and emotions with honesty. The episode “Shame and Accountability” has helped me better challenge my stigmatized beliefs without shame, and the episodes with Tarana Burke, Austin Channing Brown, and Emmanuel Acho describe the Black experience and how to be better allies and create safer spaces. 

2. I also recommend the novel Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehesi Coates. This short book is an honest reflection of Coates' experience of growing up Black in America to his own Black son. It is raw and real. I find myself recounting Coates’ words and experiences years after reading this book.

Amy Fairchild, dean and professor of health services management and policy
Amy Fairchild

3. Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric. I read this book after hearing Rankine, a tremendous award-winning poet, speak to Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” The book conveys in stark terms the trauma that people of color experience while stressing the importance of staying together in difficult conversations.

Mahmood Alalwan, epidemiology PhD student
Mahmood Alalwan

4. NPR’s “Code Switch” podcast discusses complex racial issues in the U.S. and how they interact with every aspect of society, including history, culture and politics. It also presents progressive solutions for the systematic manifestations of those issues, such as the episode “Imagining A World Without Prisons or Police.”

Olivia Nathan, MPH-PEP student
Olivia Nathan

Mass incarceration and policing
5. The documentary “13TH" by Ava DuVernay (available on Netflix) is a great starting point for anyone and explains how multiple systems worked and still work together to criminalize Black Americans.

Environmental and housing
6. Evicted by Matthew Desmond showcases how housing policies, predatory landlords and court systems harm Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, and explains how inextricably linked affordable, stable, safe and healthy housing is to one’s overall health.

7. The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein outlines how the U.S. government intentionally imposed racial segregation on metropolitan areas and its ramifications. This book can help public health practitioners and leaders better understand the historical context of segregation and the barriers communities of color still face because of redlining.

For those looking to do deeper work
8. Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad provides a step-by-step reflection process for anyone who benefits from white or white-passing privilege. This workbook serves as an excellent tool for anyone, especially those pursuing a career in public health. Knowing more about yourself, the privilege you hold and how you may be complicit in maintaining white supremacy will ultimately make you a stronger practitioner and advocate who is able to serve all people.  

Julia Farkas, office associate, Office of Academic Programs and Student Services
Julia Farkas

9. The College of Public Health Alumni Society’s webinar, “Understanding Disability: Health Care Barriers and Disparities,” was wonderful, and I learned so much. The presenter, who had spinal muscular atrophy, discussed advocacy and health care needs for those who have disabilities.

Darryl Hood, professor of environmental health sciences
Darryl Hood

10. The book I recommend is So You Want to Talk About Race? by Ijeoma Oluo. It’s a good starting point for people.

Tasleem Padamsee, assistant professor of health services management and policy
Tasleem Padamsee

11. Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning is an accessible read for any audience. It's also the subject of the Anti-Racism Book Club sponsored this semester by Ohio State Libraries and the College of Education and Human Ecology.

12. I also recommend “Glass Walls: Black Experiences in Higher Education,” a short, Emmy Award-winning documentary that features Ohio State students. I organized a series of talks about this video with faculty and staff last semester, and it led to some really productive conversations.

Lamuel Bean, epidemiology PhD student
Lamuel Bean

13. One of my favorite books is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. This book not only provides a great, digestible perspective on how to improve yourself as an individual, but also on how to be an effective leader and improve any environment you’re in. These concepts can easily be applied to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Mindy Freed, executive assistant to the dean
Mindy Freed

14. The “Ear Hustle” podcast was the first podcast to be completely produced inside a prison. Since then, it has evolved to include stories about not just life inside, but post-incarceration. It is thoughtful, engaging, funny and deeply humanizing. They do a wonderful job of telling stories in a way that is never salacious, but rather creates a sense of empathy and connection between the listener and the guest. 

Todd Thobe, assistant director of marketing, recruitment and admissions, Office of Academic Programs and Student Services
Todd Thobe

15. I recommend White Fragility by Dr. Robin DiAngelo. While uncomfortable, it’s important to understand the role white Americans have played in the societal norms that continue to prop up racism. This book can help people open their minds to addressing white supremacy within our culture in order to dismantle systemic issues that continue to manifest.

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About The Ohio State University College of Public Health

The Ohio State University College of Public Health is a leader in educating students, creating new knowledge through research, and improving the livelihoods and well-being of people in Ohio and beyond. The College's divisions include biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health behavior and health promotion, and health services management and policy. It is ranked 29th among all colleges and programs of public health in the nation, and first in Ohio, by U.S. News and World Report. Its specialty programs are also considered among the best in the country. The MHA program is ranked 8th, the biostatistics specialty is ranked 22nd, the epidemiology specialty is ranked 25th and the health policy and management specialty is ranked 17th.