Campus and Community / Faculty and Staff

Center for Critical Race Studies Asking Students to ‘Read Out!’

Dr. Vida Robertson leading a Read Out! discussion.

Reading strengthens analytical skills, improves memory, enhances writing abilities and builds knowledge. Those are just a few of the many benefits of spending time with a good book … and they’re also some of the qualities necessary to succeed at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD).

This summer, more than 100 prospective UHD students will spend time reading short stories focused on cultural identity. They will then venture to the University to further explore these works with guidance from UHD faculty. It’s all part of the UHD Center for Critical Race Studies’ “Read Out!,” an initiative aimed at engaging middle and high school students in a meaningful analysis of vital texts.

Students from the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program and YMCA Girls Empowerment Summer Camp are already studying assigned essays and stories. They will visit campus July 13 for a day of literary discussions and to learn more about UHD.

The following are  the 2018 Read Out! texts:

  • “Time and Distance Overcome” by Eula Bliss: This essay recalls the early days of the telephone, when lines and poles began to pop up around the country. Although this technological advancement would forever change communications, telephone poles became a vehicle for brutal lynchings.
  • “Everyone’s Abuelo Can’t Have Ridden with Pancho Villa” by Andrea Saenz: The author explores the tall tales that emerge from our families and how they are romanticized across generations.
  • “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson: This short story focuses on a small town’s annual lottery that selects one person to be sacrificed so that crops will thrive. It addresses cultural practices and traditions that may seem designed to improve communities, but are actually detrimental.

“Read out! is a mechanism to encourage minority youth to embrace literacy,” said Dr. Vida Robertson, director of the Center for Critical Race Studies. “It’s particularly important to promote literacy with texts that are about themselves and how they engage with their communities and the world.”

Visiting students will break into groups with fellows from the Center for Critical Race Studies. They will discuss these texts and have the opportunity to explore the campus and meet UHD President, Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz.

“For many of these students, this event is an introduction to higher education,” Robertson added. “They will discover the possibilities and opportunities that are available to them at UHD. We purposefully host Read Out! on our campus, which is committed to its students and to our community.”

This year marks the fifth year for Read Out! at UHD. Breakout sessions and discussions will be conducted in Academic Building, Room A300.

“Many of the students who attend Read Out! might be wondering if they are ready for college,” Robertson said. “When they arrive here, it’s important that they understand that UHD is definitely ready for them. We want them to experience a meaningful conversation on a university campus and walk away with new knowledge and the thought that this institution might be the next stop on their journeys.”