On Tuesday, novelist and New York Times columnist Anand Giriharadas and subject Raisuddin Bhuiyan visited the College of Charleston to discuss “The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas” with Honors College students. The book, selected for this year’s The College Reads program, follows Rais’s story after he is shot in the face by a racist man in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. A TedTalk given by Giriharadas covers the story more in depth here.
As students and guests sat down to lunch, the floor was opened immediately for questions.
The first questions directed at Giriharadas all pertained to his novel – how did he find the story and what makes it relevant to Americans today?
“I read about the story in a news brief in The New York Times and felt that there was something interesting there,” said Giriharadas. “It’s a small story about the biggest story going on in our world right now… a story about who is ‘us?’”
As the conversation continued, students moved away from the author’s creative process to share their own experiences of racial injustice.
The group raised issues with how people of color are treated and the clear biases in American culture – from underhanded compliments on how well they talk, to complete ignorance of the issues they face daily.
Bhuiyan explained that it is our job to make people uncomfortable.
“What we need to do every day – make people uncomfortable. Not in a bad way, but challenge… whatever is not right. Raise your voice… so they will think.”