This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 lessons on how to wake up, take action, and do the work by Tiffany Jewel
To understand the value of this book, an acknowledgement of your place on the road to anti-racism is important. In addition to this, an appreciation that there is no finish line on the road is vital. My personal journey, like many other white people, didn’t begin until 2020. I have a long way to travel, but I feel there is no better companion in the early days of your journey than this thought provoking and informative book. That is not to say this is only useful for those at the beginning of learning about anti-racism. I’m starting to see the comparisons between my usual work in early child development, and the work required to facilitate positive change against racism. It’s all very well attending CPD or reading a respected book – but you need to revisit, practice and read again if you want to truly understand and make an impact.
Tiffany Jewell is a Black biracial writer and Anti-Racist Montessori educator and consultant. She explains in her notes that ‘This is the book I wish I’d had when I was younger. And it’s the book I will share with my own children. It contains information I never learned when I was younger, and you will probably not be taught in school’. It is her hope that the book will be used ‘to start your journey in the big world of anti-racism’. The look and feel of the book suggests that the target audience is children and young people – it is published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books and the text is accompanied by Aurélia Durand’s bright and brilliant illustrations. This may well be why a nearly 40-year-old man with a stereotypical track record of poor engagement with books found it so accessible. Tiffany does however reassure us that this book ‘is for everyone’.
Myself and my colleagues on the Education Team at the Foundation Stage Forum each received a copy of this book at the same time and we spent six weeks choosing a different focal point to discuss in depth at our weekly meetings. The book enabled us, a group of white people who were all equally new to the discomfort of recognising our white privilege, to talk about race, and to talk about whiteness. I’ve since advised others who are starting out on their professional and personal journey into anti-racism that this is an ideal first text. I also suggested that this book needed to be read with time for reflection and discussion, supported by the activities woven throughout it.
When you read the book, you will notice that the text is entirely gender-neutral. The author also makes it clear that ‘Black, Brown and Indigenous folx’ are not the minority – they are the ‘Global Majority’.
I often refer back to the different sections of the book, and it is chapter 5 that has stayed at the forefront of my thinking since reading. The task is simply entitled ‘Notice who has the power’. As a white man, the questions that follow caused me to acknowledge the enormity of my white privilege: you don’t just reflect on your recent past, you literally consider your whole life in one incredibly powerful page.
This is the book I wish I’d had when I was younger, and it’s the book I will share with my own children.
By Stephen Kilgour
Edited by Jules