The Parent Diversity Advocacy Council (PDAC) held a Zoom webinar event with American author Jason Reynolds and Sonja Cherry Paul last Monday evening. Paul is the co-founder and co-facilitator of the Institute for Racial Equity in Literacy. Reynolds published a book titled Stamped, which he co-wrote with Ibram X Kendi who is an American author, professor, and anti-racist activist. This book centers around how to teach younger generations about racism. This event was a public forum meant to bring a discussion about the book to younger people.
“This was our effort in creating a courageous conversation between all of us so that we can be better allies to each other,” a member of PDAC Saily Joshi said.
The event was about 2 hours long and hit on important topics such as racism in schools, Black representation, and cultivating an anti-racist society. Reynolds got the opportunity to speak about the process and ideas behind the book Stamped, as well as his experience with writing with Kendi.
The main topic of the event included teaching racism and oppression in schools, especially to children. In May, Sonja Cherry Paul wrote ‘Stamped For Kids,’ which is a version of the original ‘Stamped’ book written for younger readers.
“The History will be preserved; it will not be watered down”, Said Sonja Cherry Paul Instead, readers will be able to access information about people and events that are essential to understanding Jason Reynolds’ books, and everything that has led us to this very moment in our country.”
Paul is very passionate about educating young children about racism. She discussed how to teach the delicate topics such as oppression, and police brutality to young children, especially young African American children, and how educators must look at this history through another lens that is not centered around oppression and instead we glorify iconic black leaders such as Martin Luther King or Malcolm X.
“If the only time you are talking about Black and brown people is through the lens of oppression and victimization, then- yeah, your Black and brown students are going to want to sink under their desk,” Paul said.
Reynolds, who shared similar ideas as Paul, spent the first half of the evening explaining how imagination is so important to young generations and how teaching kids from a young age how to have imagination is essential.
“All I wanted to do with Stamped is to figure out how to give young people a language,” Jason Reynolds said. “How to help young people understand their imagination. This is proof that your imagination is the most powerful tool.”
The evening concluded with a panel of students asking questions. Students from schools around the Aurora area came and asked tough questions such as “how can the black community move past accepting representation as liberation” to both Paul and Reynolds.
“Antiracist is not just a mission statement- it is your actions,” said Paul.