'Antiracist Baby' Is The Right Children's Book at the Right Time

Today is the release date of Antiracist Baby, a board book by author and scholar Ibram X. Kendi, and it’s already No. 1 and No. 9 on the Amazon best-seller list. Knowing that book-release dates are set many months in advance, you could think that Kendi is a very lucky author in the right place at the right time — the very week that the publishing world has made it a goal to fill the best-seller lists with the work of Black authors, part of a wave of actions to promote racial justice in this country.

But then that would be ignoring the tragic chain of events that brought us, finally, to the place. It also would be ignoring the fact that many parents should have been teaching their babies these antiracist lessons all along — before the children of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks were left without a father.

Kendi, whose 2019 book How to Be an Antiracist is also sitting at the top of the charts this week, was inspired by his 4-year-old daughter to write something for a much younger audience.

“She wanted to have a book read to her; I wanted to have a book I could read to her,” Kendi told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m really excited about the book because I wanted to provide a tool for other parents to have conversations with little children about racism before they can even understand it. The idea is that when they’re older they will have heard so much about it, it won’t be anything mysterious or taboo.”

Antiracist Baby is also very much for those babies’ parents.

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#AntiracistBaby drops tomorrow! The virtual book starts tomorrow. I’ll be talking all week about the book, and about raising antiracist kids. Studies show our children are not colorblind and if we are not raising them to be antiracist then chances are society is raising them to be racist. We must be deliberate in encouraging our children to recognize conditions as the problem and not people. We must ensure our children don’t think they have more or less because their racial group is more or less. We must teach our children notions of equity and justice before they can fully understand these concepts just as we teach them kindness and love before they can fully understand those concepts. We must raise our children to respect and value difference. I’m so excited to share #AntiracistBaby with the world. Link to register for this week’s virtual book tour in my bio.

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“Antiracist Baby is bred, not born,” the book begins. “Antiracist Baby is raised to make society transform.”

Then, as the youngest audience takes in the gorgeous illustrations by Ashley Lukashevsky, the book suggests “nine steps to make equity a reality.” The steps encourage parents not to teach children to ignore race but to name racism. And yes, some of them are going to be quite difficult for a toddler to understand, such as, “Point at policies as the problem, not people.” But as parents read these books again and again, their lessons should start to sink in for both generations.

“We must be deliberate in encouraging our children to recognize conditions as the problem and not people,” Kendi wrote on Instagram Monday. “We must ensure our children don’t think they have more or less because their racial group is more or less. We must teach our children notions of equity and justice before they can fully understand these concepts just as we teach them kindness and love before they can fully understand those concepts. We must raise our children to respect and value difference.”

Reading books like his, and the ones we list below, is a good place to start. Then read about the next steps to take when you want to raise an antiracist activist.

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