Being anti-racist takes work.
“Our kids, our youth, we adults just breathe it in, so we end up showing up in racist ways even from – when we come from families where equality was the presumed value.” – Jennifer Harvey, author of Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America during an interview with NPR
Many white parents are beginning to focus on the importance of reading diverse books to children. At least a few parents are examining their children’s bookshelves and recognizing a lack of diversity, and they’re saying they’re going to change that.
People are also making commitments to talk with their children about race and racism, something not all of us grew up doing.
These actions are essential, but they are not enough. We must not push the issue of racism off on our children and simply hope for things to get better in the next generation.
We need to take a look not only at our children’s bookshelves, but also at our own. What are the books, the movies, the news, the social media we consume? If my children’s bookshelves don’t reflect the diversity in our world, how likely is it that mine does?
Furthermore, make sure you are educated so that you can have truly meaningful conversations with your children. For some of us that means un-learning and re-learning some of what we learned in school or have come to believe. It also means opening our eyes and reading about what is happening now and how we can take a stand and work to fight systemic racism.
Introspection is essential, but it is not enough.
I strongly encourage you to check out the Little Black Book Nook’s clear, direct explanation of
She has laid out three simple but important ways for you make a difference. There are no easy answers, but she’s really laid out meaningful steps in a simple way for us.
Also, please check out AnOther for “An Ongoing List of Ways to Join the Anti-Racist Fight.” The list offers several ways to take action as well as a long reading list.
Children’s Books to Start the Conversation
Lastly, because this blog is generally dedicated to encouraging a love of reading and creativity in children, I want to mention a few children’s books that you can use to discuss race and racism in your home. This is not a list of books with diverse characters but rather a small list of a few select books that directly address the topic of racism in the United States.
When reading these books though, remember that often the most important part of story time comes when we put the book down. Don’t just read the book; talk about the book.
A Kids Book About Racism
by Jelani Memory
Not My Idea
by Anastasia Higginbotham
The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial
by Susan E. Goodman
The Youngest Marcher
by Cynthia Levinson
Also, while these books are a great way to start discussing racism, white parents should also continue the work of diversifying our bookshelves (myself included).
I also came across this Tweet from Christine Tayler-Butler (@ChristineTB), and I think it’s also very important.
I’m a parent, author, and a former college interviewer. Please hear me – in this time of stress people want to “flood” their kids with books about racism. Please provide 20 joyful books for every one book on racism. They also need to know POC kids are like every other kid.
– Christine Tayler-Butler (@ChristineTB)
And again, be sure to check out AnOther for “An Ongoing List of Ways to Join the Anti-Racist Fight.”