As a school librarian, I am tasked with being knowledgeable on such a wide array of topics that I can hardly begin to even name them. However, as a white school librarian in a very small, rural and predominantly white town and school district, an area that I take incredibly seriously (especially given my role as a reviewer for the School Library Journal) is that of understanding how race impacts our view of the world. I am in no way an expert, and am not sure I can expect to ever be one, but I do pride myself on being on a constant quest to better myself in this area. I do that by reading extensively on the topic. I immerse myself in blogs, articles and books on the topics of race, diversity, advocacy and most of all, resources for checking my white privilege as a reviewer.
Books such as this one help me do just that. Spark wide discussion. They open my eyes to the ways that America has in no way overcome its racial past and the intricacies of even using phrases such as “Black America”. Glaude is the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies and Chair, Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. I can’t say that I agree with Glaude on all the points in his book, but I also can’t say that I am fully knowledgeable enough on the majority of them to be able to intelligently disagree…..yet. As with all idealogical reading I do, it opens my mind up to new ideas and new topics to research. It sparks a question that encourages me to seek out other opinions on the same issues by the author’s peers. It makes me look into his political views more thoroughly and wrestle with his views versus mine. Do I agree with the article he wrote in Time stating back in 2016 that he wouldn’t vote for Clinton? Nope. But this book opens me up to his research and to understanding the views of people who are on all accounts different than I am. Man versus woman. Black versus white. University versus public school district. Religion versus non-religion. That’s what good books do. They make you think. And read more. Because to truly understand how to change American, we need to just flat out know more.
The other two books I read on the topic of race in 2017 were Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson and Evicted by Matthew Desmond. Both of these are books that I preached about from the rooftops, and mostly because I agreed with every single word in them. However, I know I can’t only read in my bubble, and that’s why I was so grateful to have the opportunity to read and review Democracy in Black. It wasn’t in my comfort zone and I didn’t nod my head in agreement with every word. I’m better for it, though. My eyes are open a bit wider and I can begin to challenge the way I have always taught Black History Month and Dr. Martin Luther King, along with many other topics involving race. I can demand more of myself and my peers in public schools and read more on the issues Glaud posed in this book. That’s the assignment I am taking away.
NOTE: An excellent resource for librarians and reviewers seeking discussion on the topic of race in children’s literature is the blog Reading While White.
DISCLAIMER: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.