What do we do next to begin the process of moving from non-racist to anti-racist; as an individual, as a family, as a community, and as a society? Long overdue, this moment calls us to engage, speak up, speak out, and make the necessary changes needed in the acknowledgement of our collective responsibility to fight racial injustice.
At Buckley, our faculty and staff begin, together, with a community read of The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The book and its subject matter, historically detailing the criminalization of Black bodies in the United States, will undoubtedly surface conversations on systemic racism, race, and privilege, as well as a heightened sense of awareness of how we’ve arrived at this current moment in time. Before you begin reading this text, I encourage you to spend a few minutes writing down your feelings and emotions. This is essential to an empathetic perspective. Our efforts will build the capacity to talk about the construction and implications of race, which Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds us in Between the World and Me, “is the child of racism”.
As we forge ahead for deeper understanding with the turn of a page, I want to offer a reminder: Reading a book won’t cure us of racism. Our choice must be a commitment to challenge and begin a process of “unlearning” 401 years of history from a singular narrative. This is an invitation to “lean in,” to welcome tension, sit in discomfort, interrogate learned behaviors, take risks, hold yourself and others around you accountable, and continue to challenge your thinking and future actions in the classroom and beyond. These are just a few of the steps required to keep the momentum going for addressing the insidious, pervasive ways that racism ripples within our community. This work is not a sprint or marathon, but instead a relay.
Defining our purpose, I share these words from scholar, professor and activist, Bell Hooks, “to build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.”
Get proximate. The moment is now and this is our call to action. -Ralinda Watts
NOTE: Some of the following titles are out of stock on large online booksellers, but you can order digital or audio versions (for example, Stamped from the Beginning is available for free on Spotify). Also consider shopping at local independent bookstores across Los Angeles including Eso Won
, the first Black-owned bookseller in L.A. and Reparations Club
, a marketplace for Black-owned brands.
Buckley’s Community Read
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
Civil rights lawyer and New York Times writer Michelle Alexander gives historical context to current policy and systemic racism in this riveting examination of the 13th amendment, police brutality, and the criminalization of Black bodies. This best-selling title gives a compelling introductory overview of systemic racism through systems of oppression, criminal injustice, racial profiling,school to prison pipeline, and long-standing practices and policies of our government enable and perpetuate racism in our society and culture.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, byAustin Channing Brown
I'm Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Brown writes in detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America's social fabric--from neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations.
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X. Kendi
In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. Contrary to popular conceptions, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Instead, they were devised and honed to create a hierarchical racial ideology that would last for centuries contributing to our nation’s racial disparities in everything from wealth to health. In shedding much-needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose them—and in the process, gives us reason to hope.
So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life. Generous and empathetic, yet usefully blunt . . . it's for anyone who wants to be smarter and more empathetic about matters of race and engage in more productive anti-racist action." (Salon.com)
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson
The Warmth of Other Suns is the story of the migration of southern Blacks to the urban areas of the North and West in hopes of finding a better life for themselves and their families. The Great Migration began in 1915 and continued steadily until the 1970s. During those many decades, six million Black southerners made their way from the Deep South to the North and West to escape Jim Crow laws and to forever leave behind the racism that was oppressive and all-encompassing in every facet of life. Historians and scholars believe that the number of Black people who fled the South during the Great Migration was far greater than six million because there was no formal recordkeeping and many of the departures were secretive and in the dark of night for fear of being murdered.
Me and White Supremacy (A 28 Day Challenge), by Layla Saad
Layla Saad introduces language and concepts of white supremacy, providing a 28-day challenge that anyone can engage in through reflection, journaling, and active participation. In addition, there is an actionable plan for continuing the personal work after day 28 and for designing and leading a Me and White Supremacy book circle, using The Circle Way. The book also provides an extensive glossary of terms that provides more clarity and accuracy around the use of language and steps to dismantle white supremacy.
Antiracist Titles for Children by Age/Grade Level
Different Differenter: An Activity Book on Skin Color, by Jyoti Gupta
Saturday, by Oge Mora
Hair Love, by Matthew Cherry
Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, by Meena Harris
The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander
Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson
The Youngest Marcher, by Cynthia Levinson
Something Happened in Our Town, by Marietta Collins
The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander
Resist, by Veronica Chambers
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness, by Anastasia Higginbotham
The Undefeated, by Kwame AlexanderThis Book is Anti-Racist,
by Tiffany Jewell (with guidance and support from a parent/guardian)