On Tuesday, April 12, the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership hosted a leadership dinner honoring Dr. Shreena Gandhi, Kalamazoo College Assistant Professor of Religion and ACSJL Faculty Fellow, before she leaves K College.
The evening consisted of dinner followed by a conversation between Arcus Center Director Lisa Brock and Gandhi, which focused on Gandhi’s life and work within her fellowship.
Born in the United Kingdom and raised in London and the United States, Gandhi shared her family’s story.
Upon moving from Uganda to Great Britain, Gandhi’s father was unable to become employed as a surgeon because of the color of his skin. Seeking work, the family moved to the Projects in the Bronx. Concerned about the high levels of gun violence in the area, her parents moved the family to Haverford and later to Wisconsin. Gandhi labeled her experience in Wisconsin as “traumatizing,” as she, for the first time, was surrounded almost solely by white peers who ostracized her for the color of her skin.
As her areas of focus, Gandhi teaches religion and American history. The Arcus Fellow explained that when she started teaching at K, she designed each of her classes to discuss race. More recently, her focus has shifted to the topic of intersectionality in order to offer a more all-encompassing lens.
Addressing her students, Gandhi said, “This has been the most amazing year of my time … of my life,” and encouraged them to “fight the elitism that grows in us.”
She is in the process of publishing her book, which is currently under review with two different presses, and is working on a project that aims to decolonize United States History. Additionally, the American Academy of Religion has honored Gandhi by asking her to be one of twenty-five thought leaders for the Academy. Next year, Gandhi will join the faculty at Michigan State University.