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Africana Essentials: Professor Camille Z. Charles

December 3, 2018


Dr. Camille Z. Charles is the Director of the Center for Africana Studies, Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Social Sciences, and Professor of Sociology, Africana Studies and Education.

Her research interests are in the areas of urban inequality, racial attitudes and intergroup relations, racial residential segregation, minorities in higher education, and racial identity.

We caught up with Dr. Charles between classes to learn more about the items that are essential to her day. Take a look at the items above.

(image above with descriptions below)


  1. G2 Gel ink Pens: "My husband started bringing these home from work and it totally changed my pen game. I like the colored pens because I try to use other colors besides red to markup papers."

  2. Dr. Charles uses her phone to read the news and listen to music on the phone. "It’s a nice distraction like it is for other people, but lots of after-hours work is done on the phone."

  3. "The headphones were my splurge. Normally, I'd use the earbuds that come with the phone, but I found the pink Nicki Minaj Beats by Dre earbuds after Christmas, on sale, so I treated myself. I keep them in my bag all the time."

  4. “This is a note that my daughters wrote for me on a day when I was working and they didn’t have school. I was probably not paying enough attention to them but they clearly understood that I was doing things that I had to do and couldn’t them my attention. They always find a way to let me know that they are really proud of me and that they understand. I keep that on my computer just to remind me because they were very small then and they’re not so small anymore. So it’s a nice memory."

  5. "I do a lot of reading on my iPad. I’m trying to limit my news intake so instead of surfing for lots of news and having to decide what’s real and what isn’t, I subscribe to the New York Times and the Atlantic monthly. I also take notes on my iPad so I don’t have to carry around a bunch of notebooks. And you know, Netflix (currently watching Atypical, Haunting at Hill House)."

  6. Lip balm and hand cream: “When you wash your hands a lot, your hands get dry and I hate that feeling.”

  7. "Philadelphia Negro (by W.E.B. DuBois) and Black Wealth/ White Wealth (by  Melvin Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro) are two really important books in my research and scholarship. You can’t study race and inequality in urban space properly and not be influenced by the Philadelphia Negro. Black Wealth/ White Wealth was written by one of my graduate school advisors while I was in grad school. He and his co-author were really the first people thinking about the racial wealth gap at a time where it was all about income and we couldn’t explain racial disparities as a function of social class but when you accounted for wealth disparities it started to make sense. It was really a game changer for the field. Since I was a student at the time so It became part of what I considered as normal course during my research."

  8. "Coffee is clutch. I start every day with a little quiet time and coffee when I get to the office. Café Bustelo is a brand of coffee I had in Miami and now it’s all we drink at home."

  9. "When I’m feeling anxious about stuff, I pop bubble wrap. I’m very systematic about it. I go across the rows and pop every single bubble."

  10. Coloring books: "I color to relieve stress since I’m not a good meditator. I also have an app on my iPad but it’s not the same as actual coloring."