Racism, Anti-racism, and Us



Cover for STAMPED: Racism, Antiracism, and You

As students we may pride ourselves on not being racist, but do we truly know what racism really is? This fall, the Glenbard Parent Series (GPS) hosted a virtual event featuring award-winning author Jason Reynolds to discuss his book STAMPED: Racism, Antiracism, and You to bring awareness on this subject for us. The Glenbard Parent Series is an organization dedicated to navigating healthy families by inviting experts, parents, and school staff to benefit the Glenbard community. Reynolds’ talk made us reevaluate what we think is racism and ask ourselves if we carry any traces of it within us. 

Reynolds began by humbly thanking the community for providing him a platform to share his thoughts with us. He was raw and honest with his words and moved us to a new potential of growth. 

“There’s an idea that America isn’t racist, […] but we can’t afford to be ignorant,” said Reynolds. “Racism lives in the DNA of America.” He did go on to say, however, that the young people of today are on the right path towards change as they are always ready to talk about racism as allies or activists.

As students of Glenbard West, we can be part of this change by being more accepting of all the humans around us. In order to fully become allies and activists against racism, Reynolds stated that the concept of acceptance needs to be taught. 

He broke racism down for us into the following three categories: segregationists, assimilationists, and anti-racists. Segregationists are people who hate those who are not like them, while assimilationists advocate or participate in racial or cultural integration. The example that Reynolds gives is of one’s proximity to whiteness in an effort to yield some kind of success. He puts it as one ‘willing to transform oneself to fit into this [supposed] standard mold.’ He attributes this to be racism in essence. The third group is anti-racists, which as Reynolds beautifully stated, are those who love and accept others for who they are. 

Reynolds also discussed how the government sees anti-racist education as ‘unpatriotic,’ which according to Reynolds is a clear perversion of the definition of patriotic. This is where his book STAMPED is so needed as it opens readers’ minds to think about what a textbook could be. 

“Maybe we can revolutionize what an academic text can look like,” he suggested. With the right resources, students can grow to become more accepting individuals of who they are and who others are. 

“It’s amazing what humans have the power of doing,” Reynolds reminded us. “We are our greatest influences, our greatest champions.” 

There is much work to do and change can not be immediate. Reynolds advised to constantly work towards anti-racism and to continuously change with it, as racism is ever-evolving. He is confident that with the right education and organization as well as patience, one day anti-racism can be accomplished globally.

Be on the lookout for the next GPS event featuring Dr. Christine Carter and her book The New Adolescence: Raising Happy and Successful Teens in an Age of Anxiety and Distraction on October 20, 2020 from 7-8:30 pm CST.