Many white women are now asking how to be antiracist. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery has them realizing that “not being racist” and the phrase, “kindness begins in the home,” are not enough.
Luckily, LaTashia Perry from Flint was gracious enough to spend some time with me over the phone describing how to be a true ally. Perry is the gritty self-published author of the Kids Like Mine series. Because of her tenacity, she’s able to sell thousands of books every month with no media team, agent, or publisher. And her books? It’s vital that all parents read them to their kids, even if they’re babies.
Perry said that it’s important for white children to read books with kids of color to show that they go through the same issues—they just have different colored skin. Perry’s newest book, Baby Like Mine, for example, shows a Black mother breastfeeding and a toddler who is jealous of the new baby. Every day scenes like this show white readers that everyone deals with similar experiences—Black people are no different.
Perry’s first book, Hair Like Mine, was a giant hit, and at first, she was surprised by how many white women came up to her at her signings. Time after time she heard, “I need books that don’t only have white children in them, so, thank you.” And, just like that, Perry realized how powerful her books actually were.
You see, Perry wrote her first book for her daughter. Just a preschooler at the time, she was in ballet class with a bunch of white girls in tutus. One girl poked fun of her hair and her daughter came home upset. Overnight, Perry sat up and penned her first book. Since then, her books have triumphed and proven that ALL kids need these books. But reading books isn’t enough. We must do more.
“I need you to see my color,” Perry said. Sometimes we still hear (in 2020, nonetheless) that white parents are teaching their children NOT to see color. Well, that’s offensive to Perry. She is Black and she needs to be seen—and heard. Her kids are Black and they need to be seen—and heard.
Be Actively Antiracist by Speaking Out
Perry went onto say, “If you are truly an ally, call out when you see your family members being racist. Be vocal on social media. Don’t say you’re my ally while you’re standing next to me and then be quiet in your circles. Educate yourself so that you can educate them. It affects us all.”
Perry’s books are excellent for all ages because, even the little ones, because they’re a great way to introduce diversity without being too complicated and dark. While her books open the minds and hearts of all readers, they’re fun and positive. They’re light and easy, but most importantly, impactful.
Yes, diversifying your book shelves is a start, but we must do more. Have the hard conversations. Call out your friends and family. Racism still exists because we, as white people, allow it to. Maybe, just maybe, if you read some of Perry’s books and teach your children how to be antiracist today, their tomorrow will be better because of it.
Written for Detroit Mom by Angela Anagnost-Repke.