Stand Up and Speak Out Against Racism is an important book answering real children’s questions about racism by YASSMIN ABDEL-MAGIED.
To celebrate the book’s release, Good Reading for Kids chatted to Yassmin about the importance of caring about inequality and how we can stand up to it.
ABOUT THE BOOK
A vital and vibrant book answering your questions about racism, helping everyone have confidence and the tools to help us all work towards a fairer society for everyone.
Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a very busy writer, engineer and broadcaster.
In her new book she wants to help you recognise, resist and disrupt racist conversations and attitudes.
The book is full of many illustrations and infographics from Aleesha Nandhra to help us recognise and understand this complex issue.
A great way for readers aged 9 and up to help us find ways to create change and understand how we can challenge inequality and strive towards racial justice for everyone.
Ask your librarian for a copy!
Great for ages 9+
Q&A WITH YASSMIN ABDEL-MAGIED
Why was it important to you to write this book?
When I was having conversations with adults about racial injustice, especially during the heady months of 2020, I realised that much of the work was folks unlearning the fairly simplistic ideas they had about race and racism (i.e. racism is individuals not liking each other because of the colour of their skin), and relearning some new ones. I also realised that most folks hadn’t had an education in racial injustice at all, and most of their knowledge came arbitrarily, by happenstance. I wanted to be a part of changing that for future generations, and that is where Stand Up and Speak Out Against Racism (SUSOAR) comes from.
SUSOAR is a comprehensive read – a reference book of sorts – that takes readers from the very origins of contemporary understandings of race and racism, all the way to what it looks like today, and most importantly, what we as individuals, can do about it.
In your book you write about what racism looks like today. Can you tell us the different ways racism appears?
In short, I break it down into four categories: internalised (how we absorb the ideas of racial hierarchies into our internal monologues and ideas about ourselves), interpersonal (the way racism plays out in interactions between people), institutional (how it plays out in schools, police forces etc) and systemic (which is how it all comes together to form a system of racial hierarchy). So, all the way from a young Black kid not liking the shape of their lips because it is coded as ‘less worthy’ because it doesn’t conform to Eurocentric ideas of beauty, to how facial recognition software is less effective on darker skin, to who makes up the Houses of Parliament …
Why should we care about these issues?
Racism and racial injustice are human-made catastrophes, and so humans can also fix it. Racial injustice is at the core of so many human rights violations, at the individual and collective level. It kills us – whether directly, at the hands of unjust law enforcement, or indirectly, because of years of accumulated stress, or because a doctor didn’t believe we were in as much pain as we said we were. Ultimately, we do want to all live in a free, safe and just world, right? That’s not possible if racial injustice persists.
What did you find most challenging or rewarding about writing this book?
You’d be surprised how difficult it is to summarise the topic in simple, accessible language! Or perhaps you wouldn’t be, but I certainly was. The history of racism is complex, and nuanced – I wanted to make sure I was doing it justice, but not overwhelming the readers. I also wanted this book to be relevant to all readers, regardless of their race: so making sure it was a balanced, honest and frank text was important. The most rewarding part was seeing it all come together – with the illustrations, the layout, the colour: I am very proud of what we’ve been able to do with SUSOAR, and I hope the book reaches as many people as possible.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I hope it gives them a sense of confidence in their ability to discuss race and racism, as often folks avoid the conversation for fear of getting something wrong, rather than going in with a curious, learning mindset. I hope it helps them understand the complexity of the issue, how deep it is, but also how fixable it is – yes, it is and will continue to be a challenge, but we can make a difference, and we are making a difference. Every person chipping away at the problem, digging away at the roots of racial injustice, is changing their world. If enough of us change our worlds, then the entire world is changed. Inshallah.