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Good read with kids on race

How are you managing this summer?

Last weekend we visited my husband's friends in New Jersey and New York.  It was a long car ride, about 4+ hours.  (Yes, yes, we were social distancing with our friends... even indoors with masks on.)

We had just the right book to keep us company. I've been trying to educate myself on race and racism, and my kids too, especially since my son's going to middle school at PAUS this fall, where there will be greater diversity.  I came across "Stamped",  a remix of Ibram X. Kendi's masterpiece on history of racism "Stamped from the Beginning".  It's co-written by Jason Reynold, to make it more accessible for young adult readers.

I showed my son this audiobook trailer, read by Reynold himself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z555pmF8ma0

It's so well done with great storytelling, starting with the engaging ask about "Who's the First Racist" back in 1415,  my son's instantly hooked.  So I signed us up for Audible, and we listened to the audiobook version of the book for 2 hours on the way down and 2 more on the way up. 

We learned about how the Portugese started enslavement of African Americans in the name of "saving them" with Christianity.  And how the first slaveowner in America was a relative of Virginia Governor and conveniently pushed for legalization of slavery.   We learned how after the first revolt of the poor,  the Puritan elites invented white privileges to divide up the poor whites and poor blacks so they won't unite and overwhelm the elites.  The more you listen, the more you realize how racism in America is built bit by bit by the powerful for their economic and political gains.

The book divides up view on race into three camps: segregationist the obvious racists, anti-racist the good guys, and a third camp, the assimilationist or the subtle racists who believe in educating blacks to conform to white standards. We learned not only Jefferson but also Lincoln held racist ideas, and even some historically prominent blacks held assimilationist ideas.   

I asked my son for his take of the book.  He said it's a cool book and very interesting.  That it's sad black people suffered so much, just because some people wanted more money.  And afterwards he read the whole book in one sitting.

If you have other race & anti-racism book suggestions, whether for us parents or kids, please do send along.  Here's a list I got from Christina of MLK Friends, who said it's from Ms. Varney our librarian:

  • Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi (grades K-3 ish)
  • A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory (grades K-3 ish) 
  • Let's Talk about Race by Julius Lester (grades 1-4 ish)
  • Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard (grades 3-5 ish)
  • Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters (grades 3-8 ish)
  • Not my Idea: A book about Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham (grades 4-8 ish)
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynold and Ibram X. Kendi (middle school and up)
  • This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell (middle school and up)

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