Anti-racist Literature

As educators we have been tasked with the monumental job of providing history, paradigms, and inspiration for a better world to our students.

In this honorable role, we must be hyper-vigilant of the stories we have consumed, we must be aware of the misunderstandings we have absorbed, and we must acknowledge that gaps are present–in our thinking, in our understanding, and in our own education. We are products of a system still redefining and finding itself.

In the past year, I have read more nonfiction than fiction–a real reversal in my reading consumption. While I started my anti-racist journey at birth, in a way, its momentum really took hold in my final years of high school, and has been an ongoing part of my life–personal and professional–since those teenage years. Nevertheless, it has only been in the past few years that I’ve had the robust conversations, the language development, and the depth of understanding to put all of what I have seen, heard, read, and experienced  together. And this comes as the whole world has recognized that everyone has work to do. That racism is something to be dissected and discussed, not swept under the rug.

For those new to the language and discussions, there is no place better to start than books. While I’m sure there have been plenty of lists and recommendations, I will include 8 here:

  • A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing by DaMaris Hill
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

If I had to start all over, or if I had to recommend a start, I would start with these books.

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For more details on each of these titles, please visit my book recommendation page on Instagram: Canon Reclaimed.

 

Monthly Advice–March

So, in late January, I decided to get prepared and stock up on literature to make Black History Month as inclusive as possible.

I made deliberate choices for my own development too–I read new books, I read about new and unknown history, I read literature by new authors. It’s been a great experience and I’m thrilled that I stuck to my goal.

March is Women’s History Month. I am on the same path and journey to expand, broaden, and ensure a successful Women’s History Month.

This month, on my own time, I will read stories by women only. Each woman though, will have to have a different background–meaning, if I read a book by a woman from Japan, next book needs to be a woman from another place in the world. This way, I continue to expand my perspective, my lens, and my readership.

For my students, I will do my best to do the same. As an American, in the United States, I will probably have more titles and stories about notable American women; however, in this case, each American woman will need to hail from a different part of the States, illustrate a different time period or component of history, and/or represent a different community (i.e. Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Black, Asian, Native, etc.). Again, the purpose is celebrating the vastness of women’s contributions.

At times, this can be a daunting goal, but once it’s started it comes naturally–and it’s enjoyable. So, I’m off to the library 📚 and my Amazon account 😉, wish me luck!

Black History Month & Gallery

Black History Month — these titles represent the depth desired for my instruction and learning.

These are good reads for me and good reads for my students. These books cross a range of topics, genres, and history. These books can be used in the classroom. These books can be utilized for personal reading.

I do my best to make deliberate choices to ensure a wide range of titles, authors, stories, and voices are heard/seen. Finally, I am specifically showcasing these books because I can recommend them; I have read them all and I can attest they have plenty to provide any student, any teacher, any reader.

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Monthly Advice–February: Black History Month

Black History is not the history of slavery. 

I know you know, but not everyone knows this fact–so send this friendly reminder.

Black History Month is the history of the world. Thanks to the black diaspora there are black people all over the world. Thanks to this movement, involuntary and voluntary movement, there is black culture, black achievement, and black excellence all over the world. Black History includes the stories and contributions of African-Americans, American-Africans, Afro-Caribbeans, and so much more. Celebrate that richness, devote time to that diversity, embrace all that history.


Notable people to start with:

  • Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize Winner
  • Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Winner
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Award-Winning author
  • Epsy Campbell Barr, First Vice President of Costa Rica of African descent
  • Bryan Stevenson, lawyer & social justice advocate–book (Just Mercy) was recently turned into a movie; founder of the Equal Justice Initiative

Notable movements and organizations to discuss:

  • Harlem Renaissance
  • NAACP
  • HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)
  • Black Girls Code
  • Black Sororities and Fraternities

This month, this year, celebrate all that is Black History.

 

Monthly Advice–January & February

Next month is Black History Month. Black History is American history. Black History is World History. So while learning and celebration, discussion and recognition, should happen all year, February is the focused time of the year.

As we gear up for Black History Month, I challenge all teachers, parents, families, and students to read stories by Black authors and to read about Black history–and when I mean history, I mean dig deep: go beyond the staple names you have heard year after year. Find a new story, a new person, a new part of history.

Elementary teachers, and secondary ELA and History teachers, are uniquely positioned to read to their students. Secondary teachers not in ELA and history, I challenge you to be seen reading such literature and histories.

Need some ideas? I found this list Top 150 Recommended African-American Children’s Books. I wish I had had this years ago! Some I know and love: Brown Girl Dreaming, One Crazy Summer, and Henry’s Freedom Box. Some are new and I can’t wait to read them!

Let’s make this the best Black History Month for all our students–let’s provide them, and ourselves, as many stories as possible, as many mirrors and windows as possible. . .