“A timely, crucial, and empowering exploration of racism–and antiracism–in America
This is NOT a history book.
This is a book about the here and now.
A book to help us better understand why we are where we are.
A book about race.
The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.
Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas–and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.” – Goodreads
My typical layout for a book review is WHAT I LIKED and WHAT I DID NOT LIKE, but who am I to even review this book? I’m giving in 5 stars, because it is so good and so powerful, but it needs no rating. To read this book is to want to do better, to be better, and to want to be a part of a necessary change.
This is a remix of Kendi’s book, and it is aimed at YA readers, but I think it’s a good starting point for anyone who wants to be actively antiracist and isn’t a huge nonfiction reader (like myself). This book reads quickly, but I had to break it up into a few sessions so I could digest and talk through some things, read sections to my husband, and take some breaths. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a US History class, and even when I was, it’s evident what I got was very white-centered. I am embarrassed to be reminded of how little I actually know and understand. This is my first, but certainly not my last, book on race that I’ll tackle this summer. It’s long overdue, but I’m committed to being actively antiracist, because not being racist isn’t enough.
Below are a couple of selections that stopped me in my tracks:
“Make yourself small, make yourself unthreatening, make yourself the same, make yourself safe, make yourself quiet, to make White people comfortable with your existence.”
“He argued that though White people weren’t born racist, America was built to make them that way. And if they wanted to fight against it, they had to address it with the other racist white people around them.”
And from the best afterword I’ve ever read, Jason speaks directly to young people:
“All of you deserve to know that you are in fact the antidote to anti-Blackness, xenophobia, homophobia, classism, sexism, and the other cancers that you have not caused but surely have the potential to cure…
You know how I know this? Because I’m one of the fortunate people who get to spend time with you…
And what I’ve learned is that you’re far more open and empathetic than the generations before you. So much so, that your sensitivity is used as an insult, a slight against you. Your desire for a fair world is seen as a weakness.”
“So let’s learn all there is to know about the tree of racism. The root. The fruit. The sap and trunk. The nests built over time, the changing leaves. That way, your generation can finally, actively chop it down.”
Needless to say, I will immediately be requesting a copy of this one for my middle school classroom!