Art Beat: Youth Fight Racism By Reading Books

Oct 25, 2018

Credit Kalamazoo Community Foundation

Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Kalamazoo, in partnership with the Kalamazoo Public Library, the Kalamazoo Youth Development Network, and others, are sponsoring the Great Stories Book Club for young people aged 12 to 21. It features books that invite them to explore identity, social justice, and community.

“So many community partners are coming together to help youth understand what they are living through in our society and how they can help,” Trevon Reason says. He's one of the youth leaders overseeing the meetings of the book club, which began with events in September 2018 and will continue through November.

The Great Stories Book Series features three books. Each has three events. Reason says youth who articipate will discuss the books, build relationships, share stories, and develop a vision for their community.

TRHT Book Club participants
Credit Jordan Duckens / Kalamazoo Community Foundation

The books include March, Congressman John Lewis's graphic novel-memoir; The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, about the police shooting of a young black man; and Ms. Marvel, a Marvel Comics superhero with shape-shifting abilities named Kamala Kahn, a Pakistani-American girl living in New Jersey.

As a youth leader, Reason says his role is to facilitate discussion among the readers and to steer it toward current events and ways young people can bring about positive change in their communities. Reason says some of the participants have never read a book cover-to-cover outside of school. He says they're thrilled to take ownership of the free books provided at the events.

“Some of these youth still don’t know their rights,” Reason says. “We talk about that.” Reason says his own life was changed once he discovered the power of books and reading.

Upcoming events discussing Ms. Marvel will be held at the Kalamazoo Public Library Powell Branch on October 29, November 5, and November 12, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Free copies of the books are available at the Powell Branch and the central library in downtown Kalamazoo.

Participants can sign up on SurveyMonkey. Call (269) 553-7911 for more information.

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