Here are 5 fictional books about police brutality involving young black protagonists we all can learn from.
There is a new book that talks about the construct of race, titled Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. The novel, published March 10, was written by Ibram X. Kendi, a historian and professor at American University. His new book is actually a new take on another that he had written before. Stamped From The Beginning is a much longer, more academic book that serves as the parent of his newly released title.
image via goodreads
Kendi’s new book discusses race in a way that makes it understandable and enjoyable for young readers today. In a news podcast by NPR News, Elissa Nadworny speaks with Kendi on the challenges of writing this book. Kendi says that his motivation for creating this book was that he spoke with young black students.
One student, Amanee James, a 10th grader in Washington, D.C., says that she has only learned about notable black figures in American history like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X., or Harriet Tubman, for example. As Nadworny states in the podcast, most students “only learn broad strokes about slavery.” Amanee then says that with history, people cut off the parts that they don’t want to tell, that people won’t tell young people the deeper and darker stuff about slavery, and for no good reason. History is entirely subjective, and not all of it is reported and taught in the textbooks that we read as children and emerging adults. Parts certainly could be omitted to create a certain image about the United States.
image via amazon
Kendi discusses this in the podcast and states that we [society] think that we protect young people by not teaching them the deep stuff about race and slavery, but it is in fact more harmful by doing that. This is when Kendi got the idea to make Stamped From The Beginning more accessible to younger readers. He reached out to Jason Reynolds numerous times to try and convince him but Reynolds refused to help him. Finally, Kendi was able to convince Reynolds to help publish a new version of his book by saying the task was translation.
Reynolds then spoke in the podcast, saying that the challenge was to convert large amounts of complex information, which is okay in an academic book, into something that young people (including anyone else) can break apart and digest. To do this, Kendi used cultural touch points in his new book, like Queen Latifah or Public Enemy, or even modern day song lyrics, in order to make the book relatable and understandable.
Kendi says that there are three kinds of people: people who believe race isn’t an issue anymore, that it was left in the past, people who believe that race is like an animal that never went extinct, but in reality survived and evolved into something else, and then people who know that race is everywhere.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You goes further and proposes three categories that people can fall into: Segregationists, Assimilationists, and Antiracists. Kendi says that Segregationists are those that are haters, the racists that express hatred toward races they deem different. Assimilationists are those who are complacent, or “fake.” These people want to like other races on the basis that they are like them. Then there are the antiracists, who stand against the first two groups and believe that everyone is equal.
image via npr
Nadworny then goes into climate theory, the idea that if African people lived in cooler climates, their skin would become white. This historically persistent theory originally came from Aristotle and even the people who wrote the U.S. constitution believed this theory. Kendi then informs that many leading figures in early America believed in this theory and they were considered smart for it. The ideas that Kendi presents in his book serve to challenge things like the climate theory, even if it was debunked. Kendi’s book simd to get people thinking about race, and to the extent in which it’s present in our society.
featured image via yahoo tv
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The National Book Foundation has unveiled the finalists for the National Book Awards. Listing five books each in five categories, they’ve given us some recognizable names, but it’s going to be an interesting year considering that none of the authors have taken home a National Book Award in these categories before.
For this article, we’re going to show you what made it into the ‘Young People’s Literature’ category.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Image Via Amazon
This book follows Jam and her best friend, Redemption, as they learn that monsters exist and suddenly meet Pat, a creature made of horns and colors and claws that emerges from one of Jam’s mother’s paintings thanks to a drop of Jam’s blood.
Now Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but it’ll be tough given that no one in this world believes in monsters.
How does one navigate in a world that is in denial about what you yourself know to be the truth?
Acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks this all important question, and many more, in their timely young adult debut. Kirkus Reviews praised this addition to YA as a “…soaring novel shoots for the stars and explodes the sky with its bold brilliance.”
Look Both Ways: A tale told in ten blocks by Jason Reynolds
Image Via Amazon
As Kirkus Reviews notes, this is a “collection [that] brims with humor, pathos, and the heroic struggle to grow up.” The overarching story is that a school bus fell from the sky, but no one saw it happen. Going through the day-to-day life of ten children all on a different block, we discover what really happens after the last school bell rings and what goes through our minds as we walk from home and, more importantly, what we ignore.
Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby
Image Via Amazon
Here we follow the story of Frankie, who’s been an orphan ever since her mother died and her father left her and her siblings in an orphanage. Now Frankie and her sister, Toni, two young, unwanted women doing everything they can to survive.
But now the embers of the Great Depression are kindled into the fires of World War II, and with the shadows of injustice, poverty, and death all around, the odds are against Frankie to make it in his doggone world.
NPR notes that “[t]here may be wolves behind all the doors, but there is also a whole world beyond for those bold enough to push them wide.”
1919: The Year That Changed America by Martin W. Sandler
IMAGE VIA Amazon
In 1919 (obviously) America was recovering from World War I, black soldiers returned to racism so violent that that summer would become known as the Red Summer, the suffrage movement had a long-fought win when women gained the right to vote, laborers turned to the streets to protest working conditions, and a national fervor led to a communism scare. It was the year that prohibition went into effect.
A hundred years later, Sandler looks back at each of these movements, looking at their momentum and their setbacks, showing that progress isn’t always a straight line. More than a history book, Sandler has crafted an “entertaining and instructive look at a tumultuous year.”
PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING BY RANDY RIBAY
IMAGE VIA GOODREADS
This high school English teacher and YA novelist has a breakout hit with this June 18th release. Critically acclaimed, this Filipino-American author gives his most personal story yet:
The novel explores Jay, whose cousin is killed as part of Duterte’s drug war, as he travels to the Philippines in an attempt to unravel the mystery of his cousin’s death, confronting a place he thought he knew.
Kirkus Reviews showers praise, ending their review by saying “[p]art coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte’s problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers readers a refreshingly emotional depiction of a young man of color with an earnest desire for the truth,” and I say that I’ve been following this ever since I included it on Top Picks all the way back in June 16th, and now it’s been nominated!
Who do you think is going to win? I know who I think is going to win…
Featured Image Via School Library Journal
Who says a certain book's themes are strictly for an adult audience?