10 of the Most Banned Books (and What We Can Learn From Them)

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi (2020)

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is the “for kids” remix of 2016’s Stamped from the Beginning, one of the books at the center of the controversy over “critical race theory.” It’s the book Ted Cruz held up at the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in April 2022 as he questioned her about her view of “critical race theory.”

Viewing racism as a systemic issue as opposed to the result of individual bigotry presents some people (mainly racists) with an ideological problem. If it’s accepted, there is no other course but to correct the system itself. Because the arguments in favor of the existence of systemic racism are all but undeniable, what’s left is ending the discussion itself, so fewer people “find out.” It’s easiest to start with kids, of course, hence the ban.

What we can learn: One of the reasons this book is singled out is because it’s very effective and kids like it. As author Reynolds has said, his goal was to “figure out how to make this really complex thing and “make it feel like a fresh pair of Jordans.” In a way, someone trying to censor your book is the highest praise; it means you got to them.

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