Reflections: #antiracistbookfest 2022

I know…that’s a big stack of books but nonetheless, I am grateful that Hannah found the #antiracistbookfest last spring! We both attended last April and were blown away at the quality of writing, thought, and discussion so obviously, we both had to attend again this past Saturday and honestly, it seems the book festival gets better every year! 

This year I attended six 1hr. sessions starting at 9am and ending at 6pm. Each session was titled by subject and usually included a fiction and non-fiction book written on that subject over the past year. The sessions were guided by a moderator who asked questions and directed the general conversation between the two authors. This format works very nicely (as long as the moderator doesn’t take over the session…happened in one of my sessions this year) and allows for conversation to flow naturally between the authors while keeping the session on-topic and relevant. 

Since Hannah and I posted an #antiracistbookfest wrap-up video on YouTube I do not want to write a synopsis of each session, but I’d like to discuss why these kinds of events are important if we actually want to change our world/nation in a way that truly reflects the ideals of equality, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness we claim as our founding values. 

One of the main topics of discussion throughout the day was how ‘narrative drives policy’ and how the stories we collectively learn and pass on to future generations are key in determining the policies that our government implements. For example, as Ibram X. Kendi explains in Stamped from the Beginning, the pseudo-science of a racial hierarchy allowed for governments to sanction, legitimize, and make the enslavement of other humans, legal. Due to the close link between narrative and policy, the stories of immigrants, the history of indigenous removal and dispossession, the biographies of black people, the history of black America, and the genealogy of social movements like Abolition and Feminism all become key factors in shaping the future of policy and institutions in America. These stories shape our understanding of ourselves and our country and when they are neglected or erased we will continue to justify not only the atrocities our ancestors but also the harm and miscarriages of justice we commit individually and collectively today and in the days to come. 

This is why I attend the #antiracistbookfest; not only to hear and bare witness to these stories as a way to broaden my own understanding of the world around me, but to be reminded of the key role I play as an educator, daughter, aunt, etc. in passing on these narratives to future generations. The contributing authors always educate and inspire me to do more and do better, for this I am eternally grateful to each and every one. 

Read on my friends!

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