Not my idea A book about whiteness

Anastasia Higginbotham

Book - 2018

A white child sees a TV news report of a white police officer shooting and killing a black man. "In our family, we don't see color," his mother says, but he sees the colors plain enough. An afternoon in the library's history stacks uncover the truth of white supremacy in America. Racism was not his idea and he refuses to defend it.

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Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 4–6—In this call to action, a young white child catches news fragments of a police officer shooting an unarmed black man. They witness their family members' discomfort, avoidance, and eventual dismissal of the shooting (and the resulting protests) while claiming, "We don't see color." The child's confusion leads them to the library for answers about the history of racism in the United States. Ultimately, they vocalize feelings of frustration to their parent. Told in second person to an assumed white audience, the text intersperses firm declarations that the structure of whiteness oppresses people of color with gentle reassurances that growth and change are possible—when bolstered by honesty and accountability. Higginbotham's trademark collage connotes the sweet simplicity of homemade crafts sharpened with the candor of radical zines, and adds layers of meaning that can serve as conversation starters for keen-eyed readers. A page discussing economic oppression, for example, depicts white hands with shirt sleeves made of U.S. dollar bills. The inclusion of a relatable narrative alongside age-appropriate language and direct explanations make this an essential text for young readers, and adults, unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the role of white people in dismantling racism. Back pages include an activity section that is visually rich but structurally vague; each page reads more as a discussion point than an exercise. In an image depicting racial profiling, the security guard closely observing a black child also appears to be a person of color; in a book on whiteness, this feels like detraction from an otherwise consistent message. VERDICT A much-needed title that provides a strong foundation for critical discussions of white people and racism, particularly for young audiences. Recommended for all collections.—Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

People of color are eager for white people to deal with their racial ignorance. White people are desperate for an affirmative role in racial justice.Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness helps with conversations the nation is, just now, finally starting to have.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An honest explanation about how power and privilege factor into the lives of white children, at the expense of other groups, and how they can help seek justice. 'THE NEW YORK TIMESONE OF HUFFPOST'S RECOMMENDED "ANTI-RACIST BOOKS FOR KIDS AND TEENS"**A WHITE RAVEN 2019 SELECTION**NAMED ONE OF SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL'S BEST BOOKS OF 2018 Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness is a picture book about racism and racial justice, inviting white children and parents to become curious about racism, accept that it's real, and cultivate justice. This book does a phenomenal job of explaining how power and privilege affect us from birth, and how we can educate ourselves...Not My Idea is an incredibly important book, one that we should all be using as a catalyst for our anti-racist education. 'THE TINY ACTIVISTQuite frankly, the first book I’ve seen that provides an honest explanation for kids about the state of race in America today. 'ELIZABETH BIRD, librarian “It’s that exact mix of true-to-life humor and unflinching honesty that makes Higginbotham’s book work so well…”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (*Starred Review) A much-needed title that provides a strong foundation for critical discussions of white people and racism, particularly for young audiences. Recommended for all collections. 'SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (*Starred Review) A necessary children's book about whiteness, white supremacy, and resistance… Important, accessible, needed. 'KIRKUS REVIEWS A timely story that addresses racism, civic responsibility, and the concept of whiteness. 'FOREWORD REVIEWS For white folks who aren’t sure how to talk to their kids about race, this book is the perfect beginning. 'O MAGAZINE

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An honest explanation about how power and privilege factor into the lives of white children, at the expense of other groups, and how they can help seek justice. —THE NEW YORK TIMESONE OF HUFFPOST'S RECOMMENDED "ANTI-RACIST BOOKS FOR KIDS AND TEENS"**A WHITE RAVEN 2019 SELECTION**NAMED ONE OF SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL'S BEST BOOKS OF 2018 Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness is a picture book about racism and racial justice, inviting white children and parents to become curious about racism, accept that it's real, and cultivate justice. This book does a phenomenal job of explaining how power and privilege affect us from birth, and how we can educate ourselves...Not My Idea is an incredibly important book, one that we should all be using as a catalyst for our anti-racist education. —THE TINY ACTIVISTQuite frankly, the first book I’ve seen that provides an honest explanation for kids about the state of race in America today. —ELIZABETH BIRD, librarian “It’s that exact mix of true-to-life humor and unflinching honesty that makes Higginbotham’s book work so well…”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (*Starred Review) A much-needed title that provides a strong foundation for critical discussions of white people and racism, particularly for young audiences. Recommended for all collections. —SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (*Starred Review) A necessary children's book about whiteness, white supremacy, and resistance… Important, accessible, needed. —KIRKUS REVIEWS A timely story that addresses racism, civic responsibility, and the concept of whiteness. —FOREWORD REVIEWS For white folks who aren’t sure how to talk to their kids about race, this book is the perfect beginning. —O MAGAZINE