Becoming Anti-Racist

This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work Book Poster Image

One of my students gave me a book This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewel and illustrated by Aurelia Durand, published by Scholastic.

It was a winter holiday gift (December 2020) and it’s taken me until the end of February 2021 to read through it. It contains 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work.

Before I go further, I identify as white with Metis heritage. I grew up in a “mixed race” family of half siblings who had ancestry that included Black heritage (i.e., slaves imported from the Congo) and East Asian heritage (i.e., indentured workers from Sri Lanka). Even though our childhood was “white washed”, there were regular occurrences of other people pointing out skin colour differences within the family. My mother was once asked why she was nursing a “brown baby.” My younger sisters were asked if they indeed were full sisters due to their different skin colouring. With this experience, I thought I had done “The Work” but I realized from reading this book that I have so much more work to do!

Each page of the book brings more light to my anti-racist stance. Page 31 defines racism as a “personal prejudice and bias and the systemic misuse and abuse of power by institutions.” It discusses how institutions and ideas of norms enforced racism such as preferences for straight hair and light skin colour. It highlights the impact history has on reinforcing racism and the need to define people by asking “Where were you born?” Page 59 includes the ancestral trauma of chattel slavery and how “The history we carry with us is in our DNA and the stories we were never told.” The book encourages people to tell their families’ stories and how to set a path to take action by “Calling in and Calling Out” (page 112.)

I have not used this resource in class yet, as I was waiting for our return to the physical classroom. I know my approach to the lessons in this book will be to start with the book’s lesson and then see where my students will take the lesson further. There are some interesting activities that include starting a notebook to promote change. Within this notebook, students can:

  • List their identities p. 14
  • Create their identity map p. 15
  • Create a list of social identity categories p. 23
  • Reflect on their own race and ethnicity p. 29
  • Create an “I AM -AND I AM” chart p. 35
  • Identifying Microaggressions p. 51
  • Identifying their history beyond their family

I’ll stop here as this book is full of ways to engage students in learning about anti-racism! This book would be great to use with students in grades 5 and up. School staff would also benefit in using this book to explore their own journey towards anti-racism.

Please post any resources that you’ve used in class along with the appropriate student age/grade.

With this book, I hope to build my role as an ally and as a person who will “spend my privilege” through building awareness, support, and amplifying change.

Still working on “Doing The Work”,

Collaboratively Yours,

Deborah Weston, PhD

This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work – Book Review

This Book Is Anti-Racist Educator Guide Written by Tiffany Jewell

Great Courses: America’s Long Struggle against Slavery via Prime Video

The Uncomfortable Truth

Africa’s Great Civilizations

 

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The Author

Deb Weston

I love teaching. I’ve been teaching over 20 years in Ontario. I’ve taught grades 2 through to grade 8, including split and contained Spec Ed classes. I am an advocate/ally for issues dealing with Special Education. I sit on ETFO's Special Education Standing Committee. I hold a PhD in Education Policy & Leadership. I am learning disabled! I believe that when working collaboratively, teachers are better together. My opinions are my own, usually supported by peer-reviewed literature and law. Follow me on Twitter @DPAWestonPhD

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