Stand up and speak out against racism by Yassmin Abdel-Magied

cover image

Yassmin Abdel-Magied, a Muslim woman born in Sudan, brought up in Australia, now living in London, social justice advocate and engineer, has written a powerful and important book based on survey questions from UK children on the topic of racism. After a brief introduction from the author, she explains how the chapters are organised with an important guide giving strategies to deal with any heightened emotions that may occur from reading the book.  The first section deals with the history of racism. This is followed by the second section which deals with what racism looks like today and the final section provides information about standing up and speaking out against racism. There is a comprehensive glossary and index in the final pages.

The first question, ‘Why does racism exist?’ is explained in detail and talks about colonisation, enslavement, and the desire for some countries to make money and control others. ‘Divide and conquer’ is discussed with an example presented geared towards school-aged readers. The second section begins with the four key ways racism shows itself: internalised (inside us), interpersonal (between people), institutional (rules in school and government), systemic (how it all comes together). Each is explained clearly in accessible language with excellent examples given. The final section has some powerful questions answered. For example, ‘Why should I care about racism when there are so many other things going on?' and ‘All the bad stuff happened so long ago. I didn’t do it. Why should I care? It’s not my fault.’

Throughout this book the author ‘talks’ to her readers gently, and respectfully gives examples of racism from around the world. She shares many wonderful strategies to enable young people to rethink how they can be a person of change. The use of brightly coloured illustrations, speech bubbles, infographics, tables, charts, text boxes with key facts, all aim to provide the reader with visual prompts to emphasise and support the significance of this topic.

With the ‘Indigenous Voice to Parliament’ referendum in Australia imminent, this book would be a valuable resource to share with school students in upper primary and secondary classes, to enable them to grasp the history behind racism and how it has influenced what is happening in 2023.

Themes: Racism, History, Stereotyping, Change, Acceptance, Racial Justice.

Kathryn Beilby