What we’re reading: Hanae Tsukada

“What we’re reading” is a regular feature in Dialogues, CTLT’s bi-monthly newsletter. In each edition, one staff member at CTLT will share what they’re currently reading and offer some poignant suggestions for your reading list.

Hanae Tsukada, educational strategist at UBC’s Equity & Inclusion Office who works in partnership with the CTLT, shares her reading list from the June 2019 edition:

Is there a specific book that inspired you to pursue work in equity and inclusion?

It would be Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. I read it over a decade ago when I started noticing invisible walls in my professional and personal life as a foreign woman of colour in the United States, and yet being unable to name what it was that I was struggling with. The book gave me a language to understand implicit, and yet systemic, ways in which power is exercised to dehumanize the oppressed and to normalize their participation in systems of oppression. I wouldn’t be doing the work I’m doing today if I hadn’t encountered this book.

Has a specific book helped guide your work more recently?

I finished reading Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings lately, and it was a magnificent book! As many of you may know, this book is an autobiography of the early years of Angelou, a prominent African-American writer and poet from Arkansas. Many of her stories are layered with racism and sexual abuse, among many other life struggles that she has endured, but she tells those stories with dignity, wisdom, and a sense of humour. I did not read the book for my work specifically, but it gave me many points of reflection for my work, as it is often concerned with marginalized groups in society. I see that a deficit way of looking at what those groups bring to universities is still pervasive. However, Angelou’s remarkable life stories remind me of the special creativity, knowledge, and strength that people develop as they navigate a world that is not fair to them, and that we should create more space for their potential to flourish.

What are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette is next in line on my bookshelf. I heard about this book through CBC’s coverage of this year’s Canada Reads. I like stories that slowly reveal missing pieces of characters’ lives, and the book seems to do exactly that! It is a fictionalized story of the author’s grandmother, Suzanne, who has abandoned her family, and the author’s search to understand her grandmother’s life.

Who is your favourite author? If you could recommend one book by them, what would it be?

Caroline Knapp is one of the first authors in English that I started reading for pleasure (until then, my readings in English were primarily for educational/academic purposes), and her Drinking: A Love Story is one of the most memorable books I have read. When I first saw the book at a library, I was simply intrigued by the title because drinking problems were an unfamiliar subject to me. However, once I started reading the book, what was most interesting to me was not so much about issues of drinking per se but rather her introspective analysis of her life, including secrets of her family that appeared so successful from outside. She passed away years ago, but you will still find something relevant and meaningful in her books that delve deep into the complexity of our lives.

Hanae Tsukada is an Educational Strategist from the Equity & Inclusion Office, working with CTLT to advance equity and inclusion both in teaching and learning at UBC and in CTLT as a unit.