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From Lemons to Lemonade: Lemonade in PA

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Tia Sherèe Gaynor 
October 7, 2016

In the first part of From Lemons to Lemonade, I explored connections between Beyoncè’s visual album and public administration (PA). This column, part two, is a supplement to that discussion.

The inspiration for creating such a syllabus stemmed from Candice Benbow’s Lemonade Syllabus, a collection of over 200 resources that specifically speak to Black women. The syllabus here is not as extensive as Benbow’s, nor is it an exhaustive list of resources that link public administration to Lemonade. It is, however, my attempt to offer texts that, within a PA context, give voice to the marginalized communities specifically and intentionally illuminated in Beyoncè’s Lemonade.

My hope, in offering Lemonade in PA, is to introduce (for some) and expand (for others) an array of texts, theorists and critical insights for consideration alongside public administration’s traditional writings and theories. The resources presented below are organized into the core courses traditionally offered in PA programs. Each source offers counter-narratives to the overwhelmingly White, male-centered discourse found within the field’s instructional material and align with the many themes, critiques and conversations presented in Lemonade, the visual album. While I write this column with a focus on PA instructors, those seeking a personal reading list will also find these texts most insightful.

Lemonade in PA




The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues

Angela Y. Davis

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More

Janet Mock

Between The World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Disposable Domestics: Immigrant Women Workers in the Global Economy

Grace Chang

Public Policy & Policy Analysis

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Michelle Alexander

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

Melissa Harris-Perry

Policy Design for Democracy

Anne Larason Schneider and Helen Ingram

Inclusion and Democracy

Iris Marion Young

Research Methods

Methodology of the Oppressed

Chela Sandoval

The Counted Database

The Guardian

Community Based Participatory Research

Karen A. Hacker

Participatory Action Research

Multiple Authors

Community Development

Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States

Kenneth T. Jackson

Root Shock

Mindy Thompson Fullilove

The Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein

Renegade Dreams: Living through Injury in Gangland Chicago

Laurence Ralph

Public Management

Race and Social Equity: A Nervous Area of Government

Susan T. Gooden

Institutional Racism, Organizations and Public Policy

James D. Ward and

Mario A. Rivera

Democracy Matters

Cornel West

Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

bell hooks

Global Studies, Global Issues, Comparative PA

Globalization and Race

Kamari Maxine Clarke and Deborah A Thomas

The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues

Angela Y. Davis

Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization

Branko Milanovic


It is incumbent upon PA faculty to offer students wide-ranging perspectives within classroom instruction. The incorporation of such perspectives help to make the classroom environment inclusive and create safer spaces for students to share their own experiences. Current and future public administrators must understand the existence of privilege and how it works within U.S. society. Yet, this knowledge cannot be imparted upon students until instructors, themselves, understand.

When discussing issues of equity and inclusion (although many in the dominant culture categorize these discussions as “diversity”), I often hear my academic colleagues remark: How do I know what I don’t know? I teach an [objective, quantitative, scientific] course, these issues do not impact my course or These “issues” would not exist if [fill in the blank] would just work hard. These perspectives stem from privileged positions in the academy and society. The presentation of the readings offered in The Lemonade in PA syllabus eliminate any excuse faculty may have to NOT be engaged in critical discussions in the classroom.

The topics explored in Lemonade and in the readings listed above have real world, tangible implications for ALL residents in the United States and across the globe. Remaining unaware and ignorant of not only these topics but how to engage them in a classroom with students is, therefore, a choice. A choice to be silent, a choice to continue the white, male, hetero-centric dialogue present in the instruction of public administration.

In her book, Waking Up White, Debby Irving discusses how she began to understand the privileges she, unknowingly, received as a White woman in the United States. She wrote, “A wave of horror rolled through me as I realized how frightfully easy it is for white folks to make decisions that don’t just maintain but strengthen racism’s hold on communities. It didn’t even take evil, just ignorance.”

I encourage you, do not choose to be ignorant, do not perpetuate the status quo. Step out of your comfort zone and engage in critical exploration.

Author: Tia Sherèe Gaynor is an assistant professor in the department of public and nonprofit administration at Marist College. Her research seeks to examine issues of social justice and equity within a U.S. and global context and her scholarship can be categorized as follows: resident participation and engagement; public and social policy analysis and implementation; and pedagogy, learning and instruction.

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