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January 2016

J-Term Book Club

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: Week 3


Rob Peace in Pula, Croatia

Today marked the third meeting of SDIS’ annual J-Term book club. Returning the meeting location to Woulfe Alumni Hall, chapters 12-17, the last chapters of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, were read and discussed. Rob’s life after Yale and leading up to his death were the focus of the section.

The discussion questions for this week’s meeting were the following:

  1. Revisit Rob’s “statement of purpose” draft for his graduate school application (p. 337). How did this statement affect you? ​
  2. What does this “statement of purpose” say about Rob’s authenticity?
  3. At Rob’s funeral, Raquel addresses a crowd of hundreds using the metaphor of a redwood tree to recognize the glory Rob achieved during his lifetime. She stated, “I take solace in the fact that so many others thrived and found refuge in his shade while he was with us” (p. 390). Why do you think Rob had a high capacity to influence people in his life?
  4. How might Rob influence readers of this book who become exposed to (pieces of) his story?

This week’s meeting was streamed via Periscope. If you missed the meeting and wanted to catch up on the discussion, the stream is available on SDIS’ Twitter account (@USTDiversity) and Facebook page.

Next week is the last meeting of this year’s J-Term book club. Review the book, and expect an hour of reflection and final thoughts about it as well as related topics such as the author’s perspective and the implications of Robert Peace’s story.

Until next time!

J-Term Book Club

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: Week 2


Another exciting section of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace was read and discussed this week!

The second of four weekly meetings was hosted at Scooter’s today, with discussion regarding the events of chapters 6-11. Questions for this week’s discussion were the following:

  1. Mapping a 5-Year Career Plan vs. Surviving Day to Day

Discuss the reality that the majority of Yale’s student body had the privilege to map out their future career and academic goals while the small number of institutionally marginalized students were—in addition to balancing academic work—concerned about holistically making it to the next day alive (financially, emotionally, mentally, and physically). What are distinct examples of this?

  1. The Privilege of Having Both Assets and Needs

What were assets that low-income/financially underserved, first-generation college students and/or students of color at Yale (Rob, Raquel, Zina, Sherman, Oswaldo, Ty, Daniella) were deprived of, in comparison to the majority of their Yale peers? How did this lack of institutional support reflect their life experiences before and after graduation?

  1. Code-Switching vs. Fronting

Discuss Rob’s methods of “Newark-proofing”: code-switching as a method of both survival and reserved integration of his authentic self into varied environments in East Orange. According to Rob, how does Newark-proofing reflect his authenticity? Is Newark-proofing the same as “fronting,” a type of behavior Rob strongly disliked?

  1. A Contradiction in the “American Dream”

In the book, Hobbs articulates the majority of white wealthy students broadacasting their newly earned Ivy League degrees. It appears Rob felt a need to remain remarkably humble—and even silent about his degree especially within his hometown East Orange network. Even his father, Skeet, knew to remain quiet about his pride for Rob’s Yale degree in Trenton State Prison. How might the dominant narrative of the “American Dream” ideal feel comical, idealistic and ungraspable to Rob? What are these white wealthy Yale graduate characters entering the “real-world” not understanding?

The meeting was streamed on Periscope and has been posted on SDIS’ Twitter page (@USTDiversity). It is available for viewing until tomorrow afternoon.

Our next meeting on January 21 will be hosted at Woulfe Alumni North from 12-1 p.m. Members are expected to read chapters 12 through 17 which focus on Robert Peace’s experiences immediately after graduating from Yale.

See you next week!

J-Term Book Club

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: Week 1

SDIS’ annual J-Term book club has begun!

Thursday marked the first of four weekly meetings for this year’s book club. The 105 registered members were expected to read chapters 1-5 of this year’s book, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace.

Discussion questions for the first meeting were the following:

  1. They carried their book bags everywhere, slung over their shoulders, so that they seemed to be going to or from school and thus not threatening anyone’s turf. Too, for Rob, this meant talking like the people talked, quoting the lyrics they quoted, playing football the way they played, and never letting them forget that he was Skeet Douglas’s son. Not relevant in this arena were the Catholic principles of patience, pacifism , and conflict resolution taught at Mt. Carmel; nor was Rob’s widening knowledge of American literature, human biology, European history, and algebra.
    • What dynamics are at play in this quote (p. 63), and how is this scene reflective of the reality that Rob experiences? Was his formal education culturally relevant or validating to his own life?
  2. In addition to this quote, what are other definitive examples in Rob’s childhood that influence and foreshadow his future?
  3. What several factors contributed to Rob’s ability to overachieve academically with persistence and passionate? What were limitations positioned to destroy Rob’s aspirations?
  4. Rob is incredibly generous, loyal and giving, concerned about the well-being of his family and community. What are examples of Rob exercising his intelligence to support his family and community (financially, emotionally, and physically) at a such a young age?

The meeting was live-streamed using SDIS’ Periscope account. Follow us @USTDiversity on Twitter and/or Periscope to catch streams of the coming book club meetings and other events. Broadcasts from the meetings will be archived and available on the SDIS Twitter account for 24 hours after the broadcast is posted.

Our next meeting on January 14 will be hosted at Scooter’s at the same time, 12-1 p.m. Members are expected to read chapters 6 through 11 which focus on Robert Peace’s experiences as a student at Yale University.

See you next week!