Kidlit Rally for Black Lives

For anyone who didn’t catch it, I want to encourage you to watch the Kidlit Rally for Black Lives, held online June 4th and sponsored by The Brown Bookshelf. The first hour of this two-hour event was aimed at kids and families, with the second half focused on speaking to the adults in the audience. It was, for me and by all accounts, an extraordinary event, and a gathering of amazing talent: Jacqueline Woodson, Jason Reynolds, Kwame Alexander, and many (many!) others, all speaking to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement in general, and the importance of incorporating anti-racist efforts in the the work that we do.  

So, what can we do about it? What are we willing to do? And how can we expand that willingness in ourselves, beyond our personal comfort zones and into the new territory that is the current conversation about race in this country?

Speaking for myself, and my perspective as a White person, I had two take-aways from the rally, echoed in a lot of what I’ve been hearing in the weeks since George Floyd’s murder. 

First: I can work harder to amplify Black voices. By that, I mean, I can use whatever platform I have to share and echo the work of Black writers, and thinkers, and other activists whose voices are at the center of this movement. It also means buying and reading books by Black creators, as well as other authors from marginalized communities. And it can also mean making sure that anytime I'm invited to attend a professional event, I'm asking the organizers questions about who else will be there, and supporting them in their efforts to make sure that their panels and workshops include a diverse faculty.  

Second: White people can and should be talking to other White people about racism, which is, of course, and ultimately, a White problem. Our problem. My problem. For me, that means making a concerted effort at something I haven't done enough of in the past. 

There's no end to the work we can do now, including getting out of our personal comfort zones, if that's what it takes. Like the writing process itself, it's not meant to always be comfortable -- and by the same token, that sense of discomfort isn't a sign that I'm doing it wrong. Usually more like the opposite. 

And maybe for right now? Watch this video. I promise you won’t be sorry. 


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