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How can we help our children understand racism?

How much do our kids understand and how can we teach them about the origins, complexities and importance of race inequality in the modern world? Tiffany Jewell’s book This Book is Anti-Racist, is aimed at 12+ year olds, and provides an introduction to race, history and society in 20 chapters – it helps equip all children with the tools to understand, dismantle and ultimately eradicate racism.

We ask Tiffany to tell us more…

With the current situation, why else do you believe this book is timely and important?

Anti-racism has helped me to have a clearer understanding of the world around me, how we got here, and it has helped me to shape a clear vision of what an anti-racist, just society could and will be like. These questions do not only arise when injustice is being discussed in the news, bias and racism are not only new today. They are foundational in this country. They are issues of our past, our present and our tomorrow.

How do you define anti-racism and why do you think it is important?

Anti-racism is always building and developing one’s consciousness of injustice and oppression. It’s seeking truth and growing with that knowledge. It’s actively defying racism, white supremacist culture, and the status quo that have been established by the dominant culture for so long. It is not achieved by taking a one-day training or even a semester long course. It is lifelong work.

Anti-racism is how we regain our humanity. It’s how we exist in community (small and large) that truly honours everyone. It allows for us to understand and reckon with our past so we can build a just future for ourselves and repair the damage that has been done.

Racism is a problem: a very serious problem and it needs to be talked about because it isn’t going away if we do nothing.

How has anti-racism education influenced you as a parent and as a teacher?

As a teacher, this lens of anti-racism has helped me to see, hold, and support every child who walks through the classroom doors. I have become a much more flexible teacher who trusts my students. I am able to build strong relationships with families and support the whole child, rather than trying to fit the child into the box of normalcy.

We don’t hide the truth from our little ones because they can handle it. If we say nothing, we’re telling our children we are complicit with racism and oppression… and we are not.

Who did you write this book for?

I wrote this book for everyone. This is the book I wish I had when I was nine years old, sitting in a classroom with a racist teacher. I wrote this for all my former students who always want to know more and want to know that, even though they’re young, they do have the agency to make impactful change. And, this is the book I want my children to read. I wrote this book for parents and families, for educators and administrators, I wrote it for all the students and children who live in our racialized society (which is everywhere).

This book is for our ancestors. It’s for our futures. And, it’s for all the young BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), like Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Tamir Rice, who are murdered by the hands of those we are supposed to go to for help. Our young ancestors should not be simply memorialized in our hashtags; they deserve more than that.

What effect do you hope this book will have on the reader?

I hope this book opens up a door for a deeper understanding of our collective history of racism. Everyone who reads this will have the opportunity to reflect, grow, and move towards working in solidarity with others. Readers are encouraged to build their anti-racist capacity and create action that disrupts racism. I hope every reader will see themselves in this book and be moved to work towards liberation.

Published in January 2020 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. The publishers have decided to significantly reduce the price of the e-book to £1.99 (from £8.99) until the end of June.

ALL profits made from ebook sales will be donated to the Black Lives Matter Foundation and its outreach programmes in the US, UK and Canada.

US author Tiffany Jewell is a Black biracial writer, parent and Montessori educator who has been working to dismantle white supremacy through education for fourteen years. In addition to her job as a teacher, she has designed curriculums, given workshops, and presented at conferences on her work addressing social inequity through the lenses of race, class, immigration, and gender. She is also the co-founder of #AntiRacistBookClub, an Instagram (@tiffanymjewell) campaign that recommends anti-racist books. Her debut book, This Book is Anti-Racist is the first book about anti-racism published for teenagers and aims to empower young people to disrupt racist systems that previous generations have put in place.  


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