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March 2022

Long Read: Transcendent Kingdom

“Transcendent Kingdom” is a fictional book about Gifty, a black female Neuroscience PhD candidate studying reward-seeking pathways in mice. Themes and behaviors Gifty observes in her science are closely mirrored by the trauma, relating to addiction and depression, experienced by Gifty and her family. While much of the present-day plot is set at Stanford where Gifty is performing her PhD, her life story is slowly revealed, along with the history of repeated racism and sexism she has experienced, especially as a first generation American supported primarily by a single parent who struggles with mental illness. Woven throughout the story are many thoughts and questions about the interconnectedness of religion and science ,as well as the effects of mental illnesses, not just on an individual but on their loved ones. Though Gifty’s story is fictional, her experiences as a graduate student, in managing grief and trauma, and supporting family through mental illness are ones many readers can relate to. “Transcendent Kingdom” is definitely not a light read but pushes the reader to think differently about science, faith, mental illness, and human nature. After reading this, I look forward to reading Yaa Gyasi‘s other critically acclaimed novel, “Homegoing.”

Short Read(s) : East Boston v. Eversource Substation: An Ongoing Fight for Justice


Here, author Diana Gastelum succinctly describes how the planned Eversource electrical substation in East Boston is a matter of environmental racism. While Eversource claims this new substation to be essential for continuing its service to its customers, its proposed location creates a number of health hazards, including air and noise pollution right next to a community playground– as well as the potential to cause a major explosion (due to its proximity to the ocean and Logan Airport’s fuel supply bays). Gastelum highlights that the neighborhood in which it is planned to be built is composed 64% of people of color and 54% immigrants. Over the past several years, a number of activists, many of whom are LatinX, have been loudly resisting the project. Since the article was written, a vote in Boston resulted in 84% of citywide voters expressing opposition to the build (another good quick read). Nevertheless, Eversource’s plan is still moving forward. Learn how to get involved via GreenRoots or Extinction Rebellion.

MIT Spotlight:

This month the MIT BE Graduate Student DEI Education Working Group organized a panel discussion featuring organizers, community leaders, and researchers to discuss the intersections of struggles for racial justice and indigenous sovereignty with struggles against environmental degradation and the climate crisis. If you missed the panel, we recommend watching “There’s Something in the Water” (available on Netflix). We hope to have a link to the recording available soon!


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