Segregationists. Assimilationists. Antiracists.
Early on in “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” a reader is introduced to those three words. And the learning begins.
“This is not a history book,” co-author Jason Reynolds writes in the first chapter. An acclaimed author of books for young people, Reynolds goes on to hedge: “At least not like the ones you’re used to reading in school.”
So begins the selection for One Everett One Book.
A new community-wide reading initiative, it’s a collaboration between the Everett Public Library, the city of Everett, the Everett School District, Everett Community College and Washington State University Everett. The idea is to get people talking — about race.
“We all need to understand better,” said Lynn Deeken, EvCC’s dean of arts and learning resources. As part of a group that planned how the college would be involved in One Everett One Book, she said one focus was the question “How do we use this to have hard conversations?”
The timeline traced in “Stamped” stretches from the 1400s capture and enslavement of Africans by a white monarch in Portugal to Hurricane Katrina, which in 2005 “blew the color-blind roof off America and allowed all to see — if they dared to look — the dreadful progression of racism,” Reynolds writes.
The book includes the election of President Barack Obama, and the recent rise of young Black Lives Matter activists.
The book’s jacket explains how this volume is a “Remix,” a retelling in conversational style of Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.” It won the 2016 National Book Award for nonfiction. Kendi shares co-author credits with Reynolds in the 2020 book.
Reynolds and Kendi are scheduled to take part in an online One Everett One Book presentation at 6 p.m. Monday. An online discussion for teens is set for 4 p.m. Monday, while a similar event for adults will be at 6 p.m. Feb. 25.
The authors’ talk will be moderated by EvCC President Daria Willis.
“She’s a historian by training,” Deeken said. “With the three of them, it should be a fascinating conversation.”
Abigail Cooley, Everett Public Library director, said One Everett One Book is a kind of rebranding of the longtime Everett Reads program, now intended for a wider audience. It’s an effort “to engage the community in dialogue,” she said.
“Each year, we want to broaden and deepen a shared experience,” Cooley said. About the book choice, she said, “we’ve heard positive feedback, but I’ve also heard from those who question it.” The selection was made as “a topic relevant to our community,” Cooley said.
She’s encouraged that by midweek, nearly 600 people had signed up for the authors’ talk. There were 999 total slots available. The program will also be streamed on YouTube, Cooley said.
In the Everett School District, the book isn’t being assigned in classes, but is suggested as optional reading. Kalle Spear, the district’s director of literacy and humanities, said information about One Everett One Book has gone out “through our communications department in partnership with the library.”
Spear said the book is age-appropriate for high school and possibly middle school students.
“We defer to parents” in terms of outside reading, she said. She also suggested that “whole families may want to tune in to the author discussion.”
The Everett district’s administration team — including Superintendent Ian Saltzman, principals and assistant principals — read “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” this summer.
Spear is excited that the ideas in Kendi’s more academic book are available in the retold version.
“Accessibility is huge,” she said. “Everyone is excited about this opportunity.”
Although the authors can’t be here in person, we’re fortunate they’ll share time and thoughts with local readers here. The Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader chose Reynolds as the 2020-2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His books include “When I Was the Greatest, “The Boy in the Black Suit,” the “Track” series, “Look Both Ways” and “Long Way Down,” which received a Newbery Honor.
Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University and founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. In 2020, Time magazine named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people.
The Everett Public Library has print and digital versions of “Stamped” available for checkout.
Julie Muhlstein: firstname.lastname@example.org
One Book events online
“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” the One Everett One Book selection, will be featured in a live, online presentation by its authors, Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, at 6 p.m. Monday. Registration needed at: crowdcast.io/e/everett/register
An online discussion of the book for teens is set for 4 p.m. Monday, while an online event for adults will be at 6 p.m. Feb. 25.
Information about One Everett One Book: epls.org/onebook