Everything I Learned About Racism I Learned in School

HarperCollins/Versify. Feb. 2024. 272p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780358638315.
Gr 8 Up–A thought-provoking combination of memoir and anthology exploring institutionalized racism. In straight-forward language, Jewell (This Book Is Anti-Racist) describes her encounters with racism from elementary school to college, most times not obvious or overt but still insidious and dehumanizing. Able to pass as white, she and her twin sister were able to enjoy the privileges of being tracked into honor classes while witnessing the ways darker-skinned students of color were shut out. She discusses the biased curriculum and standardized tests and the focused military recruitment of BIPOC folks—all factors that cause students to internalize what avenues are open to some and closed off to others. Her thoughtful personal essays are enhanced by statistics and graphs, grounding her anecdotes with undeniable evidence. Entries from other authors, such as Randy Ribay, Torrey Maldonado, and Joanna Ho, are interspersed between Jewell’s autobiographical chapters. These poems and essays flesh out the volume, offering more layers to the book’s thesis—they touch upon religion, sexuality, and class, and how those elements are often tied into how young people are racialized. The text is accessible for teens to read on their own but would also be an excellent choice for group reads. The narrative is informative, sympathetic, and open, with the feel of a mentor pulling back the curtain. The copy is enhanced by an effective use of bold type and large font. Back matter includes further reading, references for each chapter, and contributor biographies.
VERDICT Purchase this for all collections serving teens.

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