137: Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi’s STAMPED: RACISM, ANTIRACISM, AND YOU - August 2020 Book Club
In this Unabridged Book Club discussion, we talk about Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. This amazing book is a remix for young people of Kendi’s original Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and we all felt that it was a phenomenal read and is such a great fit for the classroom.
Ashley - Tiffany D. Jackson’s Monday’s Not Coming
Jen - Robert Kolker’s Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family
Sara - Sheila Williams’s The Secret Women
Ashley - Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele’s When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir
Jen - Kwame Mbalia’s Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
Give Me One - Favorite Dessert
Ashley - Oreo Ice Cream Dessert (This recipe is similar to the handwritten one I have)
Sara - Ice cream, but Sara also recommends Monster Cookie Dough Dip
Tiffany D. Jackson's Allegedly
Jamie Golden with The Popcast
the Hamilton musical
Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy
Unabridged Episode - Great Books for the Classroom Written by Black Authors
Revisionist History episode, "The Lady Vanishes" (Note: In the episode, Jen mentions a Freakonomics episode about the Prime Minister of New Zealand and says she'll check on the link. This episode of Revisionist History, about the Prime Minister of Australia, is the correct reference.)
Ibram X. Kendi's interview on Armchair Expert
(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)
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Hi and welcome to Episode 137. Today we are talking about Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. This is our book club episode. Before we get started, I just want to remind you that we have a ton of good content. We are putting it every month in Patreon, we are having audio episodes, we have some videos in there. We have stuff for teachers and for non teachers. So if you want to check it out, we will have a link in the show notes. But yeah, there's enough to keep you busy for quite a while.
All right, we're going to shift over to our Bookish Check-in and talk about what we're reading right now. Ashley, what are you reading?
So one of the things I'm reading right now is Tiffany D. Jackson's Monday's Not Coming. This is a young adult novel that I've been wanting to read for quite a while--it's been on my unread shelf. I won it from a giveaway a while ago and have been looking forward to reading it and just hadn't gotten around to it, and I'm so glad that I started. It moves very quickly, and it's really compelling and well written. So in it, Claudia, the narrator is wrapping . . . summer is wrapping up, she's about to start eighth grade, and she is going back to school and excited to see her best friend Monday. She had not spoken with her throughout the summer; they normally write each other letters, and Monday wasn't replying, and she's not answering the phone. But Claudia is still, you know, of course, expecting to see her when she goes back to school for eighth grade. And when she gets there the first day, she does not see Monday, and she also doesn't see her younger siblings, and no one seems to have any idea where they are. And so I haven't read very much yet, but it is very much about how she has realized that something is going on. But she doesn't know what it is, and she keeps--she, Claudia--keeps trying to figure out what's happening because, of course, she's really concerned about her friend Monday, but no one else seems to be interested in pursuing what's going on or where the kids are or why they are not around. And so she's kind of been taking her matters into her home or her own hands a little bit and trying to figure out what's going on. And then it's also really great. I always love books that look at different parts of chronology. So there's some movement between the before and then the after, and then a kind of before-the-before part, so that's really great too, and I think I love when books do that, but often when, for younger readers, that can be really challenging, and I think that Jackson does a really great job of moving through the chronology back and forth like that, but also in a way that I think teens can manage, and appreciate. So I'm loving it so far. And again, that's Tiffany Jackson's Monday's Not Coming.
I'll be curious to hear what you think when you finish it, because I did read it. And I mean, I think that Tiffany Jackson does a great job with writing compelling stories because I thought Allegedly, her other book, was, I mean, she might have some more, but the other book that I have read of hers, was really compelling. But I'll be interested to hear your take on Monday's Not Coming because I thought it was super compelling. But it didn't end like I anticipated.
That's what, I've heard about the twist. And yeah, I've posted on bookstagram about the fact that I was reading it, and people have said that it's really twisty, and I could tell that some people really loved that, and others maybe were a little dissatisfied. That's what I'd really love to read Allegedly as well. I've heard great things about that one.
That's so funny because I won that, I won Monday's Not Coming from a giveaway as well, but also have not read it.
So I need to get on it. Yeah. I have the same question after having read Allegedly. So. Yeah, that'll be interesting. All right.
I'll can't wait to hear both of you, both of your takes on that one.
It may be a little while for me. My, my TBR is backed up. Okay. Sara, what are you reading?
Well, I'm reading a brand new book that I just bought called The Secret Women. It's by Sheila Williams, and it is . . . I'm really enjoying it. I'm about halfway through. It is about three women who meet in a yoga class. They meet just by chance, and they realize that each of them has lost their mother at one . . . at some point in their life. One of them just recently lost her mother, one of one of the ladies lost her mom 15 years ago, another one lost her mom a couple of years ago, but they realize that they have this connection. And they all have either boxes or an apartment or something that they have not cleaned out of their mom's and have been putting it off. So they kind of make this pact to do that together and to be there for each other as they do . . . as they do it. And I mean, I love books about female relationships and friendships. And I love that it starts off with this bond between these women. And the chapters are told, so it's a multi perspective novel, which I also like. So the women are DD, Carmen and Elise, then there will be chapters about the moms as well told from the moms' perspective, so it kind of plays with that chronology like you were talking about in Monday's Not Coming. So there'll be flashbacks and you get the perspective of the mom, and it's just . . . I really am enjoying it. And like I said, I'm about halfway through, and I can't wait to see what happens. It's compelling. It's a fast read. And again, I love the relationship between the women, the friendships that they build, and just learning about their moms. It's, it's really good.
That sounds great. Wow.
What are you reading, Jen?
So I just started this morning, so I don't have tons of impressions so far, but I'm reading Robert Kolker's Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family. I'm doing this as part of a buddy read with @readwithtoni--check out her episode. And it is about a family, the Galvin family, they have 12 kids, and six of them have schizophrenia. And they are sort of . . . they are the first family to be studied by the . . . I'm going to look up who it is--by the National Institute of Mental Health about schizophrenia. I heard Kolker speak on the Just the Right Book Podcast. And he was fascinating. So he has interviewed the family members that he could, and he talked a lot about his methods and how he convinced them to be really open in telling the stories because there are a lot of things that happened in the family that were kept secret for many years. And there was a lot of--because it was so misunderstood, there were a lot of things that happened that they did not want to reveal to themselves and to the public. And so I am just really looking forward to seeing what happens. I will say the beginning is beautifully written. And I've read that it's a good mix, in reading reviews about it, that it's a good mix of sort of narrative storytelling, which I'm seeing already, there's already suspense filled in and character built in, but also then that there's a lot of information about just the mental health industry in the United States, which is something I find to be really interesting. So. So so far, so good. We'll see.
I heard Jamie Golden talk about that as a green light on The Popcast. And she said that she thought it was excellent. And so that made me want to read it too. So I like I like narrative nonfiction like that. So I'm interested to read it. Can't wait to hear your review.
Yeah. That sounds great.
And I think it's gonna be a good one to do as a buddy read because I think already, like I have, like, you know, three pages in, and I have like 15 things highlighted, so that's usually a good sign for a buddy read.
Main Discussion: Book Club Book - Stamped
All right, so I'm going to read a brief summary of the book, and then we'll get started. Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is a remix for young people of Kendi's original Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. Reynolds asserts from the beginning that this is not a history book. Instead, it's an exploration of the origins of racist concepts in the United States and the ways that those in power shaped messages that have persisted into contemporary society.
I will say this was a hard summary to write because I feel like this book encompasses so much more than that. So that is just the barest starting point right there. But we are going to move on in. All right, so we are going to first talk about our overall impressions of this book. Sara, you want to start us off?
Well, I really love this book. I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about some of my favorite books of 2020 that I have read in 2020, not necessarily published in 2020. And this is at the top of my list. I listened to it on Libro.fm and the . . . it is narrated by Jason Reynolds himself. And I think that, I mean, I've been on record to say saying that when an author reads his or her own work that that is my favorite thing to listen to on an audiobook, and Jason Reynolds is a phenomenal speaker. If you ever have a chance to see him speak live or online, I totally recommend that, but this book is no different. He speaks to the use because this is a YA book, and he is just so . . . I don't know, just so lovely and direct, and he is able to act like this book is a conversation with the young people who are the intended audience. And I just think that is there is something magical about that for the listener because it takes on this whole other level of meaning, I think, when you can hear the author who is so passionate about something, say the things that he's saying and trying to teach the things he's trying to teach, and I just think that is awesome. So I loved it. I thought that it . . . I learned so much from it. It makes me really want to read Ibram X. Kendi's total book, but I mean, I just think it is a phenomenal read for kids who need a place to start, and adults who need a place to start, I think it's really accessible. And I mean, I just can't say enough good things about it. I'm going to start it with my son, in a few, you know, in a in a week or two, we're going to start and read it together because I think it does a great job of laying out the history but in a way that is not like, like you said in the description, Jen, not a history book. So I can't say enough good things about it.
Yay. All right. Ashley, how about you?
I'm going to just repeat exactly what you said, Sara, but I think, I mean, we have all talked before about how amazing Jason Reynolds is as a writer. And Ibram X. Kendi is brilliant. But it also takes mastery on the part of Reynolds to be able to take what is a very dense text and, and rework it in a way that makes it really accessible to young people. And and Kendi speaks to that in the very beginning of the book and how thankful he--and in the acknowledgments at the end as well--just how thankful he was to work with someone like Reynolds, to take something that is really, really complex and that spans such a huge amount of time, but also package it in a way that I think really works for kids. And so, I mean, I thought it was such a powerful read, and also very fast moving, which I think is really hard for nonfiction. He is moving through the text. And like you said, Sara, I think is because he includes the reader in the dialogue, that it works so well for kids. And I love how he provides some editorial commentary about the things that happened, and I think that is really important for kids. I think sometimes we assume that when we tell a horrendous thing that happened or explain a law that was put in place, that we assume that kids draw those connections themselves, and sometimes they don't. They need someone to spell it out for them why this is a problem and what it means in practice, and I think he does that so well and so efficiently. So yeah, I mean, I can't say enough about how great I think it is how thrilled I am that it is out there and available and that we can get it into the hands of our young people and into our schools.
How about you, Jen? What did you think?
I'll just say ditto, ditto, ditto. No. So I will . . . I'll just highlight a couple of things. So I, like Sara, I listened first, and then I read it on the page, and it is astonishing that it works--usually books, I feel like, are a little better one or the other--and it is perfection both ways. I started Ibram X. Kendi's book for a buddy read and had to stop because I didn't want to get the two confused, and I made it through . . . I read through part one, and it is brilliant and very readable and amazing, but man, is it dense. And so, Ashley, I just want to echo what you said about the mastery it takes to not water it down--because I think sometimes I don't love young people's editions because they are just watered-down versions of the adult texts--but to take it, include all of the information that kids need to draw these conclusions, and oh my gosh, and it's just a joy to read. And so I just . . . Yeah, I just am in awe. And so there may be times that I don't know how to articulate just how brilliant I think it is. But, and I think, too, like you said, Ashley, sometimes it's hard for kids to draw the conclusions made. These are conclusions, I have a hard time drawing, and so to see the way that they are looking at the way thought was shaped in order to make . . . to keep people in power who were in power, and to see how insidious it is and how just step by step through history, people have done all that they can to reinforce just the way we think. And of course, I think we all know in the background of our lives that that is happening, but to see it laid bare is frightening. Because yeah, because there's so much more information out there right now, that you think how many more opportunities people have to do this all the time than they did at the times that Kendi and Reynolds are talking about? Yeah, I mean, it is that just the scholarship involved is also just stunning. And so I, yeah, this is gonna be a lot of raving about this book because it is just, on every level, I can't imagine what could be better about it.
Well, and I think that something that really, that really resonates in this story is how highly Jason Reynolds thinks of teens. And I feel like that is a big distinction with a lot of the young readers editions of books is a lot of times people who are writing those, that's not their, the audience that they know and love so well. And so a lot of times they are talking down to the . . . to the intended audience, which makes it very hard for me to read. A lot of times I get so frustrated with young readers editions that I just abandon them because I don't want to be talked down too, and I don't want my students to be talked down to you. And I think that I mean, again, that's in the acknowledgments, he really speaks to his love of young people. But you can see it in the text. And you can see it in the way that he addresses them, that he holds them as the audience in high regard, and that he is with them on this journey. And I think that's that that is another really amazing thing about this part. And like you said, Jen, I have Stamped from the Beginning that I'm really looking forward to reading. But it is intimidating for me as an adult reader. And so I just need to take that, and for Kendi and Reynolds to be able to make it work, for the people who have the chance to change the future, is really amazing.
Yeah, yeah, I've been raving--my husband is a history teacher, and I've been raving about it to him. So we're gonna do a family read together. I'm really excited about it. And I think we'll do a mix of the audio and the print because I'm just convinced . . . yeah, I think that the audio is so: I can't give that up. But I also want them to be able to see the words on the page. So yeah, we'll report back. We'll see how that goes because I only have one print copy. So the four of us may be fighting over it. But. All right, so this may be redundant, but what worked for us? And yeah, let's . . . Ashley, what's something that worked for you?
Yeah. I mean, I think the thing that stood out to me the most I've already touched on, which is the way that Reynolds inserts himself into the conversation and makes it a dialogue between the reader and the history. And I think that is the part that history . . . historians and history books don't always do well. I think a lot of historians are excellent at telling the story, but they don't always include us in it as the audience, and I think that is so important here because again, if we are trying to help bring about change and shift the culture in America, then people have to see themselves--young people have to see themselves--as part of the solution to a very complicated and long-lasting problem. And so I just think that that's what's really powerful to me about it is the way that it, he integrates the teens into the situation and really brings him in, and I also think the style of the book, in general, will resonate with young people. So the tone, I think, is really effective. Also just the variation in chapter link and the grabbing of attention. And sometimes there's really large text on the page to get people to pay attention. I think all of that is really powerful. So I would say in general, this style is what stands out to me as being the most . . . one of the most amazing things. We all, I think, could go on. I mean, it's just a masterpiece, it's a masterpiece, so it's hard not to go on and on and on of how amazing it is. But I think that's one of the things that really worked best for me.
Sara, how about you?
So let me get out my scroll because I've got a long list. But no, I mean, all of the things we've already said. I mean, I love all those things, I love the point that Ashley just made about the style. I'm going to go with . . . it's just so hard to pick one thing, it just seems to, I don't know, it just seems like not it does not give justice to the book. But what I really appreciated about the way that Reynolds started the book is how he defines racism, anti racism, assimilation, and I think that is something that kids, really, because I'm always looking through this, at this book, through the perspective of a teacher, and I think that is something that kids and a lot of adults really don't understand is how to be an anti racist. Because I think in our minds, we think about--people in general think I'm not racist, but then you think about I think that Reynolds is a really good job of showing how you have that everyone has some inherent thing that they need to actively work against to be an anti racist, and also about people throughout history who are doing great work, but also are assimilating. I mean, I just thought all that was really fascinating, and I think it's something that, that me as a white person, I need to know that, and I think kids who have the opportunity to change the narrative of what has happened in our country, need to know that, they need to be informed about that, so that they can make better choices going forward than the generations before them. So I think that that is a really powerful message that he, he both defines, but also teaches along the way, about what, that he shows examples of what it is and what it isn't and that you don't you aren't always just one of those things that people move between them, and you know, and even people who are trying to do really good work, they have to really work to be an anti racist. So I thought that was really powerful message, and I think it is something that, like I said, we as adults need, but really our kids need so that they can make better choices going forward.
Yeah, mine is closely related to that. It's just, he resists the urge to simplify, so I think you look at all these figures through history, and I think our tendency is to place them in one slot, and then that's it. And he is looking at, like you were saying, Sara, that maybe they did good things, maybe their intentions were good, but they ended up being assimilationists. And so I think just the, the figures that he--that they--choose to work through, they are looking at all sides of them, and they are looking at the good things that they did and the bad things that they did.
And this is gonna be a slight digression, but not completely. So, as we're recording, we just . . . it's been the Hamilton weekend, and so my family now has watched . . . Well, my husband and I watched Hamilton once and then we watched again with our boys. And there have been just this run of articles about that play, and some people were really critical of it, and some people love it, and some are looking at both sides. And what I appreciate about Lin-Manuel Miranda and just all of it is, he is open to criticism, and people can love it and still acknowledge that it is not perfect, or I love it, but maybe this part could have been better. And so I think when we think about history, we have to resist that that need for . . . to think things are good or bad, right or wrong. And that's what Lin-Manuel Miranda said. He was like people are criticizing it? Great. Yeah, there are things I missed. You know, I'm trying to cram an 800-page book in two-and-a-half hours, there were things I left out, please list them so other people can learn about them.
And I think, I get that same sense. Like I think the best works are those that are trying to contend with history as a series of really complex stories and people and people who made good and bad decisions in their lives. I mean, I think that the parts on Thomas Jefferson in this book are fascinating. And so I just, yeah, when you look at, you know, W. E. B. Du Bois and the way that his beliefs changed over the course of his life, to look at one part and say this is what he believed is false because he believed so many things, and he had a journey. And so I think, I really like the way they resist a snapshot of any person. Instead, we get these really nuanced discussions about who they were and why they thought this is maybe the beginnings of their writings, and then they changed and how other people influenced them. I think that is something we need to embrace more is the ability to change and to admit that we were wrong and to do so publicly. I think that is really important. And I want my boys--that that is something I really hope that they learn is that there is no shame in saying, "I thought this, and then I learned something, and then I tried to do better." And yeah, so I sorry, that was probably not totally coherent. But I've just been thinking a lot about the ways that we look at our history. And, yeah, how do we wrestle with the mistakes that we've made while celebrating the the good things that we've done? And I think Reynolds and Kendi do that so well.
I mean, I, you know, it when I read this, it really made me, I mean, for many reasons, it made me really question and think about the way history is taught in school. But what also it showed me is that we kind of cherry pick these people in history, and they're like, this guy, this person is this, and this is what they did. And I mean, like you said, Jen, with, with Jefferson, I mean, and Lincoln and with W. E. B. Du Bois, and Frederick Douglass, I mean, all of the people that they talk about, and I mean, then current, I mean, like more current people that I that actually were alive when when I was alive, like Ronald Reagan and President Obama. And I mean, he does a really good job of showing a lot of different perspectives for one person, and like the things that . . . so I mean, I just thought that was really powerful. And I think like, I think that when I read this with my son, that is something that I really want to talk about is that when that one person is not just one thing, and you know, and I think that that, unfortunately, is the way that we teach history, and that is the way we catalog it in our mind. And, I mean, that is really dangerous. And I think this book does a good job of showing that.
Yeah, I loved how even at the beginning, Kendi talks about-- I went back to look at that quote--where he said, "When I began writing, Stamped from the Beginning, I must confess that I held quite a few racist ideas. Yes, me. I'm an African American. I'm a historian of African Americans, but it's important to remember that racist ideas are ideas. Anyone can produce them or consume them as this book shows. I thought there were certain things wrong with Black people and other racial groups. Fooled by racist ideas, I did not fully realize that the only thing wrong with Black people is that we think something is wrong with Black people. I did not fully realize that the only thing extraordinary about white people is that they think something is extraordinary about white people. There are lazy, hardworking, wise, unwise, harmless and harmful individuals of every race, but no racial group is better or worse than another racial group in any way." And I just really appreciated him saying that outright, especially to young people, because I think that again, we believe not only about ourselves, but certainly about people that we look up to and admire, that they are all good. I mean, I think as a teen often the people you do really admire you assume make no mistakes. It takes a long time to come to understand that people are really complex and that these, I mean, just like Kendi said, these ideas are so foundational that often we don't even consciously acknowledge them. And so of course, we make these assumptions and carry this baggage that we don't even know we're carrying until we start to consciously unpack it. And so I just really appreciate it--that maybe goes back to what you were saying, Jen, about Lin-Manuel Miranda, and just how we learn to do better, how we learn to accept what people say and to make progress. And we are seeing, I mean, I think this is a great time for young people to get to see, as the Black Lives Matter movement is happening and people are having to respond to criticism. They are going to get to see a lot of different ways for people to respond. And I think that's really important for them to be able to witness.
Yeah, I think I mean, again, that's a digression, but I do think all of these people--like I listened to Ibram X. Kendi on I think it's called Armchair Expert, we can put a link. Yeah, and just listening to him work through his own ideas like you were saying, Ashley. I mean, it's a long interview. So they really go in and out of a lot of topics. But he is just so willing to say that too. And he is a brilliant man who clearly has a lot of knowledge. And I think, like you're saying, seeing people who are willing to openly admit, I used to think this and now I don't. I had to admit that I thought it in order to get over it is really powerful. Yeah, really powerful and I agree about the watching how people respond to criticism. I just appreciate people who can offer objections in a respectful way. And people who can take criticism, and I'm sure it hurts but who are open to everything I do is not perfect, and I think that is something that we have definitely been working on as we've thought about how to function in social media right now is okay, we may make mistakes, but we have to do something instead of just fear doing something, because, yeah, it's just really important to try to do better. Okay. I'm gonna move on. I don't want this to be like the three hour episode of Unabridged. Ashley will be very grateful if it's not. And this may be a short section. Is there anything that didn't work for you in the book?
Well, I'll go. So, I don't know. There was nothing that didn't work for me. I will say that I enjoyed the latter part where Jason Reynolds was discussing things that I lived through. I thought that was really compelling and it really, especially the part about the War on Drugs, because I was at the age where we had D.A.R.E. to Say No to Drugs. And you know, and like, as a kid, you're like, of course, you're like, yeah, say no to drugs. And yeah, we need to have a war on drugs, you know, because that is the information that was presented to me. And I was what eight or nine, ten, something like that. And reading that, and the way that it targeted the Black community was horrifying to me. And I think that, I think knowing that I was being taught one thing, and something else was happening was really eye opening. And I you know, I knew that more as an adult but like as a kid you trust the things that are taught to you. And I think it is important that kids, our kids, the generation now that we are trying to encourage to change the world need to know that what is presented is not, you know, you need to always be questioning. And always be finding things out for yourself. So, I thought that was a really powerful section for me. So again, there was nothing in this book that did not work for me. I thought it was phenomenal. But I thought that the parts that really spoke to me were the parts in the latter part of the book because I lived through those things.
We are aware of the way that a lot of what was presented is probably--it is propaganda, you know, and I think...
Oh, I was just gonna say, Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow is a great read that focuses on that. But yeah, go ahead, Ashley.
Well, I was just going to say that I think that it just shows the way that we are complicit in some of the systems and, of course, it's not the fault of the kids who are experiencing these programs. But it is up to adults to think about the complexities and to find ways to help kids understand that there are complexities to every situation and there are consequences for these seemingly good programs, and that the program can be good but have bad results also.
Ashley, is there anything that did not work for you?
No, I mean, I don't have any...I was like, I'm going to use this as an opportunity to say...one thing I loved!
That's what I did.
I liked that. I like that. I just want to point out one more specific example of something that I love. I love the way that the examination of media throughout history, and the ways that-- specifically the examples of Tarzan, Planet of the Apes, and Rocky, and how influential those films were in this, and the pop culture that surrounded it, in shaping these attitudes, because again, I think that when you think about what we study in history, I think often in our classes, we're looking at propaganda from Nazi Germany. And the images that were used to teach kids to hate Jews. And we examine those. And we look at the political cartoons, and we talk about what those show, but we're not always pulling those up from our own country. And there are so many examples of where we've done that here in America over and over and over again. And I think it's really important for kids to see that and then to question those, those things that happen. And like you said, Jen, I mean, some of them are done with--there insidious and it's purposeful, at least some people involved in the making, are doing it on purpose. And they know. And other times, I don't know that it's always insidious, but the consequences are still there. And so then we always are having to question what we watch and what we read, and what we listen to and what that does to our perceptions of the world and the people in it. So, I just thought that that angle on media, while it was not the dominant part of the book, the way that Kendi and then Reynolds managed to incorporate that throughout and show with some really iconic examples, things that have affected. I mean, I loved how Reynolds said, like, he used the example with Tarzan and said he call of Tarzan. And he said, that all young people make, or at least I did. Like that. I mean, again, that moment of including himself in this narrative, that is a hurtful narrative toward Black people, I think was just really powerful because I feel like that stuff happens over and over again. And those examples are ones that I think our students can see and can make connections to. That I think is amazing.
Yeah, I have to say....again. I'll just do the same thing. This is something that did work for me but made me uncomfortable. I mean, just thinking about those media examples. And they talk a lot about books that are sort of comedy. texts that a lot of people read, and the messages that they send again, intentionally or not, that that is all part of shaping the way they see the world. And some of those are things that I love and so that I was like, "Oh my gosh," and then I started questioning other things that I love. And I'm like, "Wait, is that okay to love? Was that okay?" And I was like, "Oh, my gosh, I can't question everything." And then I was like, "Of course I can." Like, I think that is one of their intentions is you should at least give some thought to the messages that media is sending to us. And whether that's a book because I think sometimes I have a tendency to put books above other forms of media. So maybe I acknowledge that the TV I watch is junk. But yeah, I mean, when I think about the books that I read, and the messages that have been shaped since my childhood, it is uncomfortable, and I think that we have to face that and work through it to make progress. So...
And for sure that they need to be--we talked, we touched on this in our episode about great books for the classroom written by Black authors, but just that we always need to be giving context to the classics that we are teaching. You know, so I do think it's just that constant awareness and in those moments where we've decided it is still okay to read or watch the thing, it's working through that. I mean, like I struggle with that. I have two little girls. So, I work through that with the princess stuff all the time, all the time we're unpacking, but I don't mind if they like those things, but I want them to know there are things we need to turn away from, I think, but there are also things that it's okay to continue to enjoy. But to look at them within a context that shows that like you said before, Jen, that they are not perfect that they are not flawless, that we can enjoy what is good about them without saying that there's nothing wrong.
All right, so we are going to move on to a section where we each share quotation, and I know that Ashley and Sara, like me, marked a million, so, you know, this is just a very small sliver of what we marked in our books, but . . . I've lost track of who should go first. So Ashley, do you want to share your quotation first?
Sure. This this accompanies what Sara shared about the war on drugs and the way that that resulted in mass incarceration of Black people. And so the context here for the--and like Jen said--I mean, I I highlighted every page. I will be reading this multiple times. And I appreciate even though I am going to read Kendi's work, I appreciate this sort of more concise version as a reference so I think even though I plan to read the long I know I'll be coming back to this one because I love the way that I can quickly look back to a lot of the information. It was easy through my highlights to look back at the historical figures and the comments made, so I appreciated all of that. I think it's a great--again thinking about it in the classroom--it is a great to be able to reference with kids and to easily get to the things that you've talked about so that they can learn them, because a lot of this is new information for them. And so I do think it's accessible in that way.
Anyway, this one, the context here is talking about crack versus cocaine, and the penalties for that. And when you read that, on the page, it reminded me of Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy, where when you read it, there is no way you can look at that and justify it. There is no justification at all for those choices. And so I really love that because I just think that this is one there are a lot of examples of that in this book where if you, you have to, as an American, look at it in the face. And if we cannot stand by it, then things have to change. And so I feel like there's a lot of that, but the repercussions of, like Sara said, because this is more recent, the repercussions of this we are seeing play out right now, and not that that's not true of things that happened a long time ago, but I just think there's there's a lot of prison reform that can be changed, things can be changed right now, and people are fighting for that. But just thinking about that. So again, this is talking about the disparity between those two and just how much more severely people were penalized for crack as opposed to cocaine. And the difference was, I think it was two quarters versus a brick, that the consequence was the same. So crazy.
So the quotation is, "The results should be obvious. Mass incarceration of Black people, even though White people and Black people were selling and using drugs at similar rates. Not to mention police officers policed Black neighborhoods more, and the more police, the more arrests. It's not rocket science. It's racism. And it would, once again, tear the Black community apart. More Black men were going to prison, and when (if) they came home, it was without the right to vote. No political voice. Also no jobs." And that's on page 205, and I just again, I think no one who is an American, I want to believe, that no one who is an American can look at that, look at the facts, and believe that that is equitable and fair. It's inexcusable. And so I just really appreciated having it laid out so clearly, again to young people, because young people make all sorts of assumptions about people in prison, and why they are there. And what that means. And there's a lot of criticism of men who are not present for their families. And often those men are incarcerated, or they have been incarcerated and therefore they've lost their right to vote. They can't get a job. I mean, I just think there's no rehabilitation, not only do we have an unbelievable prison system in America, but also there's no rehabilitation, the people who have been imprisoned, have consequences that are lifelong. And that could be changed. You know, there . . . there's some movement to gain back, to re-enfranchise people who have lost the right to vote, but I mean, there that's where it's very small in relationship to what is happening in the country. And again, Why should you lose your right to vote for the rest of your life? Why on earth should that right be revoked except to support and encourage these racist systems that then completely take away the rights and the voice of the oppressed?
Yep. All right, Sara, how about you?
Yeah, actually, I thought that was that whole section to me was just, yeah, I think it's just the way that he lays everything out. And so clearly, because it's like, this is what is happening. And it is clearly an horrendous issue, and it is racism. And I think that that was . . . that's really powerful.
Yeah, and like you said before, Sara, I think it's also that it counters the narrative that we were told as kids. I mean, all of us experienced the movements in the schools, and I mean, I had like the Dare Bear, you know, and I think we experienced all those things, but weren't being told this part. So, yeah.
So my quote is actually from, it's from like the earlier part of the book, like the first half, and it has to do with the 15th amendment and when it was passed, and what Reynolds says is the 15th amendment, well, I should say Reynolds and Kendi says, I think I keep referring back to Reynolds because he read the book to me. Kendi and Reynolds, they . . . this is what it says: "The 15th amendment was a big deal. But here's the thing about big deals. If people aren't careful, they can be tricked into believing a big deal is a done deal. Like there's no more fight left, no reason to keep pushing. That freedom is an actual destination." And in the context of the book, he's talking about it in like the late 1800s. But then he goes on to talk about how some of the people that were fighting for the rights of Black people, they, some of them kind of fell off and thought that their work was done. And I think that this, from this point to the rest of the . . . through the rest of the book, he is saying that it is a constant fight and that we must always be fighting for the rights and freedom of people who are oppressed and for people whose rights are being taken away. And I think, I think I love that because I think it's so powerful because it's saying that if freedom isn't a destination, it's an ongoing battle to continue and trying to do better. So I thought that was really powerful. And I think, and it's also something that happened in the late 1800s. And we are still dealing with in 2020. So I think that is also . . . I think that will be powerful for students and for young people to see that. I think that's the power of this whole book is that you see from so early on, how these systemic racism has been indoctrinated. I mean, I don't know a better way throughout the narrative of what we've been taught. And I think it's a great example of trying to move forward, I guess I don't know. I just think that it's, I think that it is an eye-opening book.
Yeah, just reshaping that narrative.
There's a great episode. I think it's a Freakonomics. [Note: This is actually the episode of Revisionist History mentioned above.] I'll try to find the episode and they they do studies of places that have elected the first of someone to be President or Prime Minister. So I think it was New Zealand, I can't remember. I'll try to look it up. The they elected their first female Prime Minister, and after that the incidences of misogyny increased. And they were talking about President Obama and how it's almost like, once you elect the first of someone, like President Obama is the first Black President, well, then our society can't be racist, and therefore I have permission to do things that maybe I didn't have permission to do before because we can't be racist if we elected a Black man President, and so it . . . I do think that idea that those milestones of course, we have to reach them, and they are important, but they can't be permission to let go of the forward momentum that they are a symbol of. It can't just be a symbolic victory. That victory has to continue. Yeah. That's, that's tough because you want to think that those things are signs of progress. And they should be, but the progress has to continue.
Jen, what is your quote?
So mine is from the end, which feels like cheating, because I do feel like they, they were wrapping things up at this point. But I thought this was so powerful. "This is how racism works. I mean, all it takes is the right kind of media to spark it. To spin it. At least that's what history has shown us. Tell a certain story a certain way. Make a move that paints you as the hero. Get enough people on your side to tell you you're right, and you're right. Even if you're wrong. And once you've been told you're right long enough, and once your being right has led you to a profitable and privileged life, you'd do anything to not be proved wrong. Even pretend human beings aren't human beings." Yeah, and that's on page 246. I think that is just, I mean, that's the book, right? That is the book is just watching people over and over again, say, Hey, I like this power, I'd like to keep it, here's what I need to do to make sure that I keep it. And it's not just power grabs, it is thinking, making people think a certain way that reinforces your right to that power and someone else's lack of right to that power. And I think that they show how that happened through slavery, but they also show that how that is happening through even today. I mean, through through the drug penalties that you all were talking about, through mass incarceration, I think everything in this book comes back to that. People want to be in the right, and they want to be able to have what they have and keep it. And if that means disenfranchising someone else, then they are going to shape their, the way they look at the world to make that happen, and yeah.
Yeah, I loved how it went, throughout, there were several times that Reynolds said, This is such a tired, old narrative. And I'd like to say there were new, at least new excuses. But it's the same old story over and over and over and over again. And I feel like that's really powerful, that idea of just, that it continues to be pervasive because of exactly exactly what you just read, Jen. But at the end of the day, not everyone who is complicit in the system is doing it for their own gain. But enough people with power are. And I mean, that's, that's really, that's really striking and something that we really need our young people to know.
Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Again, I think it's just that questioning and thinking about why things are happening, and starting to do that is just going to spread, and once you start questioning, it's hard to stop even even though it's uncomfortable, even though it might lead you to see things that you don't want to see, I think it's hard to turn off that critical lens. So.
All right, well, we are going to move on to the next section, which is our pairing. So each of us is going to share a book that we think would be a good pairing for Stamped. Sara, do you want to share yours?
Sure. So I cheated and I'm gonna . . . I'm gonna share two. One because I wanted to provide a middle-grade option. So I, if so, first, I put Nick Stone's Dear Martin, which we have talked about extensively on the podcast. It is about a young guy, young adult named Justyce. And he goes to, he's an honor student, he goes to a private school. And he is kind of looking at the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King and trying to figure, like trying to reconcile the things that he is experiencing with what Dr. King fought for. And he experiences a tragedy, and it's about, it's about how the fallout from that tragedy. And I just think, the reason I wanted to mention this book, and we--like I said, we've talked about it, we did a buddy read on it with the podcast--but why I want to talk about is because what, like Stamped I think this is a great choice for middle school or a high school read because it's a slim novel. It offers a lot of opportunity to talk about social injustice and violence. And I think, so I think that it's really good for the classroom. So I and I think that it would be a good companion to Stamped because Stamped would be the nonfiction and then Dear Martin could be a fiction read that also addresses some of the same things that that are addressed in Stamped.
The other one I wanted to talk about is a middle-grade read, and it is called, it is One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. This, I loved this book. I thought it was funny. I loved the sisters. Again, this is a story about three sisters who are sent to live with their mom who they haven't lived with in several years. And they are sent there to visit her, and they think they're they're going to go to Disneyland. But their mom sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. So it's history, historical fiction. It's set in the late 60s. And it is just, I mean, like I said, it's funny, but like the girls, the girls' names are Vanetta, Fern, and then Delphine, and they learn so much about their family, about history, and their country. It's just a really good book. It's, it's again, another slim novel, it reads really quickly. And I think that if you're looking for something for middle-grade readers, that might not be ready for Stamped, this is a great way to talk about some of the things and the history behind the concepts that are brought up in Stamped. So those are my two. I cheated.
That's okay. We will allow it. I haven't read One Crazy Summer. That makes me want to read it.
Oh, really? Oh, you'll love it. It's so good.
That's awesome. All right, Ashley, what's your pick?
So now I'm thinking I should have said middle grade. This one's not for because I do or just for young people.
I think that's okay.
But I did think that. Yeah, I'm gonna stick with my choice here. I wanted to recommend Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele's When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir. I just think, if you are looking to educate yourself about movements and how movements come about, the backlash against them, and the way that media shapes what we perceive about a movement, all of that is just really phenomenal in this book. And so I--and I just think it couldn't be more timely. It's so important for people to understand how the Black Lives Matter movement came together and also all of the pushback against it. I mean, a lot of what happened early on, I mean exactly, exactly as the title suggests: they were called a terrorist group. And it's really hard to look, again, it's hard to look that in the face, but I think that, in the memoir, it's laid out so clearly how insidious all the power structures are against, against the rights of Black people. I mean, so I just, I absolutely loved it. I thought it was really powerfully written and also just shows, it shows the progression of a movement, and I think that that is really remarkable and interesting to read. So I loved that and wanted to recommend it, and again that's Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele's When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, and Cullors and bandele are two of the women who brought about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Jen, what is yours?
So mine is also a middle-grade pick, like Sara's second pick. This is part of Rick Riordan Presents series. And this is the first in--I don't know how many books there will be--but it's by Kwame Mbalia, and it's called Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky. And I'm very much thinking about my boys here. So we talked about I want to do a read along of Stamped. My older son is currently reading this book. And I think that it does, it has some of the same intentions that Stamped has, which are to share stories and history in a way that helps you make sense of the present. And so this book starts with Tristan Strong. His dad really wants him to be a boxer. He has his first bout, and he loses, and it is . . . it is a huge deal. And his dad is super disappointed. Tristan doesn't deal with the loss well, and so his parents decide that he's going to go spend the summer with his grandparents. And his grandmother is this amazing storyteller, and she tells him all of these stories from their heritage. Riordan's introduction says, "Can you imagine what it would be like if you could find a book that wove the whole brilliant, beautiful tapestry of West African and African-American legend into one magical world?"And so because of Tristan's Nana's stories, he is able to enter this world--there's of course a little magic happening--and so he enters this world with John Henry, and with Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit and with Gum Baby who I had never heard of, I learned a lot about mythology through reading the book. And he, he starts learning about his own history. They are fighting fetterlings, which are manacles that try to trap people. And so Mbalia makes use of a lot of things that happened to enslaved people and incorporates that in the book. And it's really, really action packed, so I think it's so compelling. It's such a compelling story. And like the best novels, it also has--or historical novels--it also has all of this history woven in. So I just . . . yeah, my son is really enjoying it. He's not quite done. But I think just the way that there's this adventure story woven into all of this great mythology, it makes it a compelling read, it makes it a good companion to something like Stamped, which is asking us to look at history and to learn more about history in in a . . . yeah, in an enjoyable way. I think both of those are compelling reads that don't feel like hardships to read themselves, even though sometimes what happens in the stories or in the history is hard to listen to or to learn about.
That sounds great.
Yeah, that sounds great. I saw your review, and then I have seen several other people speak about that one recently. And I'm really interested in reading it.
Yeah, the new book's coming out, I think early next year. I'm So excited. I can't, I can't wait to see what happens with Tristan. He's a great character. So.
All right, so we are going to finish up very quickly with whether we think it's a keeper, whether we think Stamped is a keeper, and what our personal ratings are, and we'll just do that all at once. So Sara, how about you? Is it a keeper and what's your personal rating?
It's definitely a keeper. And my personal rating is five bookish hearts.
Yeah, same definitely a keeper. I also want to put it in classrooms. And definitely five bookish hearts.
Same. Three for three. Yeah, I'm gonna keep it, I'm gonna keep all my, my book darts in it. I'm gonna buy it in every format. Yeah, I think it is worth sharing. Yeah, yeah, maybe we'll have to do something about getting this in some classrooms.
Give Me One - Favorite Dessert
All right, we are going to end the way we end every episode with Give Me One, and today our topic is favorite dessert. Ashley?
There's one we make in our family called an Oreo ice cream dessert. And I really love that you . . . it's pretty easy to make, but you just melt some--it's, the original is with coffee ice cream, and so you melt the coffee ice cream and make it the bottom layer, and then there is a chocolate layer that is where you kind of make a chocolate syrup on the stove, and there is some whipped cream, and it is delicious. I love it. And it has Oreos.
Yum. All right, Sara?
My favorite dessert is probably ice cream. But it has to be something, like my favorite ice cream is the caramel chocolate chunk from a local ice cream shop called Smiley's that is around our area, and I love that. So I like ice cream, and I like it in a cone.
Yeah, so my most frequent dessert is ice cream. We have it almost every night. But there's a special one that my family makes that is really more sweet than any human being should have. But when we have it, I love it. So it's layers of cookie dough. And in between there is a layer of cream cheese and sugar, basically. And yeah, so we . . . I wouldn't want to have it all the time because it's like, so sweet it makes your teeth hurt. But occasionally it is really good. I used to make that for my students when I had my classroom, and they always really liked it. But yeah, I can put the recipe, we can attach the recipe in the show notes. So.
All right, well, thank you all very much for joining us for our discussion of Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. We would love to know if you've read this, what you think, what your favorite format was, any questions you have. Yeah, so check us out on social media, and let us know, and don't forget to look at our Patreon page where we have lots more great content for you. Thank you so much.
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