Talking About Race + Power: Resources for Children and Adults

The exhibition The World is a Mirror of My Freedom at McColl Center for Art + Innovation addresses issues that adults might find difficult to discuss with children. Our friends at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in New York compiled the following list of children’s books and online tools to help parents and caregivers jumpstart challenging conversations about race and power. McColl Center staff have added several resources for adults, from online curricula and podcasts to community advocacy groups in Charlotte and the South. 

The World is a Mirror of My Freedom is on view from January 27 to March 25, 2017.


The Colors Of Us
Author and Illustrator: Karen Katz
When seven-year-old Lena prepares to paint a self-portrait using the color brown, her mother takes her on a walk through the neighborhood to show her that brown comes in many different shades. This book provides an uplifting exploration of identity and celebrates the many differences and similarities that connect all people.

Let's Talk About Race 
Author: Julius Lester 
Illustrator: Karen Barbour

Julius Lester elevates each of our life stories by exploring the many elements that make up who we are, such as race, name, and individual taste. Lester shares his own story as he explores what makes each of us special.

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Author: Doreen Rappaport
Illustrator: Bryan Collier

Doreen Rappaport tells the captivating life story of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose courage to share his dream changed America and, arguably, the world.

Mr. Lincoln's Way
Author and Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

A beloved school principal, Mr. Lincoln, hopes to teach a school bully known as “Mean Gene” about tolerance. Mr. Lincoln encourages Gene and the other students to celebrate each other’s differences.

The Skin I’m In: A First Look at Racism (Spanish edition)
Author: Pat Thomas
Illustrator: Lesley Harker

This book encourages children to accept and be comfortable with differences of skin color and other racial characteristics. Pat Thomas explores the emotional issues and questions that difference raises among preschool and early-age children.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
Author: Duncan Tonatiuh

This book tells the true story of Sylvia Mendez, an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, who was denied enrollment into an all-White school. Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California by organizing Latinx (the gender-neutral term for Latino or Latina) communities and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their fight eventually brought an end to an era of segregated education in California.

A Is for Activist
Author: Innosanto Nagara

This ABC board book was written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.

We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures
Author: Amnesty International
Illustrators: Axel Scheffler, Peter Sis, Satoshi Kitamura, Alan Lee, Polly Dunbar, Jackie Morris, Debi Gliori, Chris Riddell, Catherine and Laurence Anholt, et al.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, following World War II and served to protect the rights of all people across the world. Through beautiful illustrations, this book celebrates the Declaration while honoring cultural diversity and human rights.

Whoever You Are
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Lesley Staub

This book teaches tolerance by likening all children across cultures, countries, and generations. Mem Fox teaches her readers that whether we are crying, laughing, learning, or sleeping, we are all alike on the inside.

All the Colors We Are (Todos los colores de nuestra piel) 
Author: Katie Kissinger 
Photographer: Wernher Krutein

Color photographs and simple, engaging language capture the essence of one way we are special and different from one another—our skin color. This bilingual book (Spanish and English) answers the "what and why" questions that children love to ask. Activity ideas are included to help adults extend the conversation with children.

Which other children's book belongs on this list?
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Living Room Protest
New York-based poet and performer Staceyann Chin and her daughter Zuri talk about a range of difficult topics in their YouTube series, Living Room Protest. Their webisodes can be a useful starting point for conversations about protest and gun control.

Border Crossers
Border Crossers’ mission is to train and empower educators to dismantle patterns of racism and injustice in our schools and communities. Their free, online resources include “Five Myths of Talking About Race with Your Child” and “The ABCs of How to Talk to Your Child about Differences.”

A Reading List for America
Maira Liriano, Associate Chief Librarian at New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center, compiled this book list to foster literacy of the American Black experience. It includes The Fire Next Time (1963) by James Baldwin, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010) by Michelle Alexander, and Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter (2016) edited by Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton, among others.

Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a chapter-based national organization working for the validity of Black life. Its associated hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was created in 2012, after George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder. #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society. Read about Charlotte’s BLM solidarity events in The Charlotte Post.

Charlotte Talks 
On January 3, 2017, Hugh McColl, former Bank of America CEO, and Harvey Gantt, Charlotte’s first Black mayor, discussed the unwritten code known as “The Charlotte Way,” and whether it should be a means of responding to issues brought to light by HB2 and the Keith Lamont Scott shooting and protests.

Just Healing
Just Healing is a collective of artists and activists who are advancing healing and wellness in social justice work. As the collective states, “How we heal ourselves is directly related to how we engage in individual and collective transformation.” Just Healing resources include broadsides on how to move through grief, heal from trauma, and attend to emotional and physical safety in protest spaces.

The Movement for Black Lives
In response to the sustained and increasingly visible violence against Black communities in the U.S. and globally, a collective of more than fifty organizations representing thousands of Black people from across the country have come together with renewed energy and purpose to articulate a common vision and agenda. The collective’s work is rooted in Black communities, with recognition of a shared struggle with all oppressed people.

On Being
On Being is a podcast that takes up the big questions of meaning with scientists and theologians, artists, and teachers. Each week is a new discovery about the immensity of our lives. Recent segments include discussions about empathy and gratitude in the face of violence.

Understanding Systemic Oppression in the United States: A Reference List for #BlackLivesMatter 
This thirty-five-page Google document addresses the institutions, policies, and practices that systematically exploit and disadvantage people of color in the United States. It also includes resources to help White and non-Black people of color better understand and dismantle their knee-jerk responses to challenging conversations about race issues—the first step toward meaningful self-education and productive dialogue.

Which other online resource belongs on this list?
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Charlotte Uprising
Charlotte Uprising is a coalition of community members, and local and state organizers committed to ensuring the safety of their communities, and advocating for police accountability, transparency, and social and economic equity.

International House
International House provides direct services to Charlotte’s ever-growing international community. The organization offers foreign-language conversation hours, cultural events, an international book club, citizen diplomacy programs, an international women’s group, language classes, free citizenship workshops, legal services for low-income immigrants, and more.

Latin American Coalition
La Coalición is a community of Latin Americans, immigrants, and allies that promotes through education, celebration, and advocacy, full and equal participation of all people in the civic, economic, and cultural life of North Carolina.

One Charlotte
One Charlotte is an initiative to start the conversation around investing in Charlotte’s critical needs, and to offer ways to begin the healing process after protests and demonstrations that took place in September 2016. This is a first step in acknowledging the inequities and challenges that exist, and a way to begin a new narrative that will include the prosperity of all Charlotte citizens.

Led by the Opportunity Task Force, locally-based individuals, companies, organizations, and congregations have signed an online statement of commitment to continue building and being a community of justice, equity, fairness, and opportunity for all.

Race Matters for Juvenile Justice
Race Matters for Juvenile Justice is a collaborative leadership group working through institutional organizing, education, and workforce development within the Charlotte community to reduce disproportionality and disparate outcomes for children and families of color.

Southeast Asian Coalition
The Southeast Asian Coalition exists to reinforce and uphold integrity, empowerment, inclusion, tradition, leadership, and critical consciousness at the grassroots level. Southeast Asian Coalition’s ultimate goal is to increase empowerment and engagement in the growing Southeast Asian American community of the Carolinas.

Southerners On New Ground 
Southerners On New Ground is a regional, queer liberation organization made up of people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, working class, rural and small-town LGBTQ people in the South. Southerners On New Ground is committed to building freedom movements rooted in Southern traditions such as community organizing, political education, storytelling, music, breaking bread, resistance, humor, performance, critical thinking, and celebration.

Which other local or regional group belongs on this list?
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