Common Text Resources

Common Text Archive of Additional Resources

Since 2019, we have been gathering resources to further our common text conversations. You can find resources for the current common text here. Below, you will find our resource archive from previous years. We invite you to explore these as we believe they remain relevant and helpful, and they connect the threads of our programming over the years.

Summer 2021 Resources

2019, incoming students read Ijeoma Oluo’s book So You Want to Talk About Race. In Fall 2020, students engaged with a suite of digital readings to help us to further understand this historic moment, where renewed calls for racial justice and the protection of Black lives were happening in the midst of a global pandemic. They also anticipated the conversation we will begin this Fall on the meaning of U.S. citizenship, starting with Jose Antonio Vargas’s book, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen. 

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker, and one of the founders of the nonprofit media and culture organization, Define American. He was born in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. At 16, when he went to apply for a driver's permit, he learned that his grandparents had brought him to the U.S. using fake papers. Dear America is a memoir tells the story of that discovery, how he navigated systems of employment and government, of the family he built along the way, and what happened when, in 2011, he publicly declared his status as an undocumented citizen.  

But, he says, "this is not a book about the politics of immigration . . . This book is about homelessness, not in a traditional sense, but the unsettled, unmoored, psychological state that undocumented immigrants like me find ourselves in . . . After twenty-five years of living illegally in a country that does not consider me one of its own, this book is the closest thing I have to freedom" (Dear America, xiii).  

To help you get started, we have provided some background on recent immigration policy and the situation at the southern border of the United States. A brief article and short videos from Define American will demonstrate the range of immigrant experience, documented and undocumented. Finally, Jose Antonio Vargas invites us to consider three questions on citizenship in his 2020 TED Talk. These materials can be found on the The Common Text webpage or as part of your Orientation course on Canvas. 

We hope these texts offer new perspectives, prompt difficult but necessary conversations, and perhaps even inspire action. Please take the time to read, listen, and watch. Then look for Common Text and partner events throughout the year that will provide you with multiple ways to engage these ideas. 

All Presidents are Deporters in Chief- New York Times Editorial Board

Access Article Here:  Opinion | All Presidents Are Deporters in Chief - The New York Times (

This opinion essay from the editors of the New York Times  discusses the responsibility of any president to manage the nation's borders, explains the approaches to deportation, and measures each president's approach over the last four presidencies. 

Citation: “All Presidents Are Deporters in Chief.” New York Times, 13 Jul, 2019.

9 Questions About the Humanitarian Crisis on the Border, Answered- Nicole

Access Article Here: What’s going on at the border and why it’s a humanitarian crisis - Vox 

Nicole Narea explains the forces behind migration from Central America, how recent administrations have tried to prevent it, and what happens once migrants present themselves at our southern border. 

Citation: Narea, Nicole. “9 Questions About the Humanitarian Crisis on the Border, Answered.” Vox, 27 Mar. 2021

Undocumented and Black - Melinda D. Anderson

Access Article Here:  Being an Undocumented Immigrant—and Black—in College - The Atlantic 

Ainslya Charlton graduated from Trinity College in Connecticut in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in political science and human rights. Her story as a black undocumented student further shatters the perception that immigration reform is only a Latino issue.

Citation: Citation: Anderson, Melinda D.. “Undocumented and Black.” The Atlantic, 31 May 2016

Stories- Define American

Access Article Here: Browse Stories - Define American

Define American is a culture change organization that uses the power of narrative to humanize conversations about immigrants. Choose a few of these very brief (1-2 minute) videos to hear the stories uploaded by undocumented people from around the country. 

Citation: "Stories." Define American, accessed 1 May 2021

3 questions to ask yourself about US citizenship - Jose Antonio Vargas

Access Article Here: Jose Antonio Vargas: 3 questions to ask yourself about US citizenship | TED Talk

Jose Antonio Vargas has three questions in this TED Talk: Where did you come from? How did you get here? Who paid? 

Citation: Vargas, Jose Antonio. “3 Questions to Ask Yourself About US Citizenship.", Jul 2020

Summer 2020 Resources

As the academic year comes to a close at Seattle University, we are seeing protests against racial injustice across America in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. We stand with Seattle University president, Fr. Stephen Sundborg, and Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Natasha Martin in condemnation of these acts and in calling for continued work to end systemic injustice. Their letter to the campus community can be viewed here.

One of the goals of the Common Text program is to invite students into a conversation, one that will continue throughout the year, and beyond. While the 2019-2020 school year ends, we encourage our students and our community to remain in dialogue with the themes of this year’s text, So You Want To Talk About Race. Below are some resources for continued learning and engagement.

Summer 2019 Resources

Check out these additional resources regarding Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race and issues of racism, oppression and marginalization. Here you will find more by Oluo, as well as resources for some in-depth exploration of Redlining - one of the subtle but impactful ways that institutionalized racism has impacted our communities, including right in SU’s neighborhood.

Talks at Google Video:



During the Great Depression of the 1930s, many U.S. residents could not afford access to a home. To spur home ownership, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration, under the New Deal, started the Federal Housing Administration to support homeowners with federally backed mortgages. 

However, banks that gave out mortgage did so along racial lines. In more than 200 U.S. cities, bank drew race-based maps to determine loans: white neighborhoods were marked in green or blue as "desirable," where nonwhite areas were marked in yellow or red for "hazardous." White residents received mortgages with the best interest rates, where black residents, and/or those who lived in non-white areas, were denied loans or given the worst rates. This became the process of redlining, which denied loans to and divested from black areas, while guaranteeing loans to and investing in white areas across the United States.  Redlining, the federally backed loan process, created the racially segregated cities that exist today.

Here are some resources on redlining:

  • The Disturbing History of the Suburbs, Adam Ruins Everything
    (6 minute video):