Hey all, it’s Sarah!
This title has been popping up on many different mock Printz lists and since Becky already featured it, I thought I would give my own take on the book.
Title: The Black Kids
Author: Christina Hammonds Reed
It’s the 90s and Ashley lives in an affluent community that is predominately white and attends an exclusive private school with predominately white classmates. As a black girl, she knows that there are certain things that are different for her from her friends, but it really hasn’t phased her. However, riots are breaking out over the brutalization of Rodney King. These riots continue to get closer and closer to Ashley’s insulated world, as her uncle’s shop is vandalized and her sister begins becoming more and more vocally active. Not only do the riots and the things that have resulted from them force Ashley to look at her insulated life, but when she starts a rumor about a fellow black kid, she realizes that life isn’t equal for all. She begins to see the truth of the inequalities in the world around her. She used to think that racism was not in her world, not really, but after these few weeks she realizes that it is alive and well in her own world.
This book clearly pairs events of America’s past with the issues of the present. The issues in this book have not gone away or gotten better, we are still in the same place. Like with Ashley, these ever-present issues are forgotten amid the more current issues that continue to pop up. Ashley adds a unique layer to black voices and provides a mirror and door for a variety of readers. The element of starting rumors and the impact they have on a person of color vs. the traditional trope of a rumor’s impact on a white MC sparks a needed conversation. This book pushes readers to confront ignored areas of racism and racial injustice, while also giving a voice to characters that are not regularly acknowledged.