During this time of coronavirus, physical distancing remains critical. At the same time, sustained connection is essential — especially if the world is committed to engaging at a grassroots level in deep systemic change. During One Book Steamboat, Bud Werner Library is here to support the Yampa Valley's community conversations about How to Be an Antiracist , Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You and Antiracist Baby.
Start a Group Conversation
Now is the time to start reading and organizing your partners to embark upon meaningful discussions. Together, we can gather virtually on Zoom, outdoors in parks, on backyard porches, over phone lines, and in intimate conversations with roommates and family. Here are a few suggestions for reading groups:
- Tap your friends and neighbors (and invite a new friend!) to start a "learning pod" for How to Be an Antiracist — a discussion group guided by the Library's One Book enrichment resources and discussion guide.
- Read and discuss Stamped as a family. This book is officially "Young Adult" but we're confident this is an accessible "history" book everyone should read.
- Gather a group that wants to dive deep on antiracism surrounding a particular area of interest or expertise. Then put a specific lens on your discussion — antiracism and housing, antiracism in education, antiracism in performing arts, antiracism in the workplace, antiracism in health care, antiracism in immigration, antiracism in outdoor recreation, antiracism in feminism, antiracism in policing.
- Start a reading group of people who want to meet weekly and discuss How to Be an Antiracist or Stamped in small sections or chapter by chapter.
- Teach these books in your pre-school, elementary school, middle school or high school classroom.
Reading and book discussions are only a start — planting the roots of a grassroots transformation. These seeds will take watering and nurturing, mutual respect, trial and error, and a lifetime of learning in order to flourish. Combating racism is a long-haul effort that starts with education. Once we learn our history we realize it took a long time to get here, and we won't unravel racism overnight. Ultimately, we all benefit from learning this human history, because racism affects everyone. As we gather with people known and unknown to us, we encourage honest conversations where our community can evolve, dig in and be inspired to learn more.
Lean on us! The Library is here to help.
If you or your organization are interested in spearheading a discussion with public involvement, the Library is here to support you with logistics. If you want to delve in with an existing book club, a group of professionals, your family, or you want to be a discussion leader among random members of the public, we've got resources and expertise to help you organize, sign up participants, and more.
Email Adult Programs Coordinator Jennie Lay at firstname.lastname@example.org if you've got questions, ideas, comments or just want to share the good news that you've got an antiracism reading group in the hopper.
Ground Rules for Discussion*
- Recognize: We recognize that we must strive to overcome historical and divisive biases, such as racism and sexism, in our society.
- Acknowledge: We acknowledge that we are all systematically taught misinformation about our own group(s) and about members of other groups. This is true for everyone, regardless of our group(s).
- No Blame: We agree not to blame ourselves or others for the misinformation we have learned, but to accept responsibility for not repeating misinformation after we have learned otherwise.
- Respect: We agree to listen respectfully to each other without interruptions. Only one person speaks at a time. However, this does not mean we should ignore problematic statements. See information here on calling in and calling out. Both approaches are valid and can be done with care and respect, with the goal of helping each other learn. We acknowledge that we may be at different stages of learning on the content and discussion topics.
- Individual Experience: We agree that no one should be required or expected to speak for their whole race or gender. We can't, even if we wanted to.
- Trust: Everyone has come to the table to learn, grow, and share. We will trust that people are doing the best they can; we all make mistakes and have bad days; when these occur, let's challenge and encourage each other to do better. We acknowledge once again that we may be at different stages of learning on the topic.
- Share the Air: Share responsibility for including all voices in the discussion. If you have a tendency to dominate discussions, take a step back and help the group invite others to speak. If you tend to stay quiet, challenge yourself to share ideas so others can learn from you. If you are exceedingly quiet, do expect that the facilitator will call on you in meetings to participate.
- Not Experts: The facilitators are not experts. They are here to help facilitate the process. They and everyone in the group are here to learn. We also recognize that everyone has an opinion. Opinions, however, are not the same as informed knowledge backed up by research. Depending on the topic and context, both are valid to share but it's important to know the difference. To engage in deep learning, we will want to lean more toward informed knowledge and gain practice reflecting and speaking thoughtfully on difficult topics.
- Ask for help: It's okay not to know. Keep in mind that we are all still learning and are bound to make mistakes when approaching a complex task or exploring new ideas. Be open to changing your mind, and make space for others to do so as well.
*These Ground Rules are adopted from the thoughtful librarians leading the Library Book Discussion Series at the Iowa State University Library, who relied upon this very helpful content and advice from UCAR.
One Book Steamboat
The Library is supporting reading groups in order to enhance learning and discussion during the 2020 ONE BOOK STEAMBOAT cross-generational community reading of the antiracist works of Ibram X. Kendi, because change demands community-wide education, introspection & action.