Kids asking adults about racism
This interview is from A Kids Book About: The Podcast. Kohen, from Team End Racism interviews author of A Kids Book About Racism, Jelani Memory. It has been edited for clarity.
So today I thought I’d bring you something a little different. Kohen, an amazing kid and the founder and CEO of Team End Racism asks about racism with A Kids Book About Racism author Jelani Memory.
Let’s get into it! Here’s Kohen, making introductions:
So now to introduce myself, my name is Kohen, CEO and founder of Team End Racism.
Wonderful to meet you. My name is Jelani Memory. I'm the author of A Kids Book About Racism and the founder of A Kids Book About.
Oh, yes. I know. Like, that is so amazing!
Thank you. That's very kind of you.
Oh, you're welcome. Are you up for some Black history questions?
I'd love some Black history questions. Hopefully I'm good at answering them.
Ok, so question number one. Who are your heroes? I mean, Black heroes, and why?
That's a really good question.
You know, one of my favorite Black heroes is Jackie Robinson. I think what he was able to accomplish as a major league baseball player and playing in the time that he did and his incredible story, I think leaves such an incredible legacy and something that I still look up to to this day.
Obviously recently, Hank Aaron passed and his story is just as incredible.
And then I think about more recent folks, like Barack Obama, is still an incredible and massive inspiration to me. As well as folks like LeVar Burton, with the work that he did on Roots and Reading Rainbow and Star Trek, and now his podcast, LeVar Burton Reads. I think he's just a literal living legend.
Wow, cool. So I think my black hero is Martin Luther King, Jr. With all those good, that good at vice and his speech, “I Have a Dream”. I really love him.
Okay. Question number two: What do you wish people knew about Black history month?
I think I wish people knew and understood that Black history is really American history.
It's the history of our country that you can't tell the history of America without telling the history of Black individuals in it; and their incredible contributions and stories and voices and hardships that they've overcome. And so I wish folks would look at it as one month to dive deep and focus on Black history while also looking at the rest of the 11 months in the year as a way to acknowledge and take a look at Black history in a way.
I wish people knew about Black history month—that it's really important, like the most important month of the year to me.
And here's my number three rules:
One - Smile at everyone.
Two - Educate on Black history.
And three: Support Black authors and businesses, which I do support you.
I love that.
Well, we at A Kids Book About are huge fans of you and huge fans of Team End Racism, and will continue to be supporters and cheering you on and tremendously thankful for your support.
My mom said I could do any wild card questions. So, how hard was it to make A Kids Book About Racism? How hard was it?
That's a good question. I was just actually chatting last night with my wife about when I made the book. I think to be quite honest, it wasn't that hard because I didn't have big plans.
I didn't spend sort of months and months and months writing it, thinking that it was going to reach thousands and thousands of people. The reality is I spent a couple of weeks working on it. And it was really important for me to get it right, and to tell my story. Growing up as a biracial kid and dealing with racism so that my kids can understand it. And they were the first audience really that the book was for. And I've been so amazed and surprised [at] how many more people it's reached beyond my six kids. And so in a lot of ways it was really simple.
If there was one hard part to it, it was hard to write as much as it was difficult to talk about because there's a lot of pain and hurt associated with those experiences around racism.
And so trying to put those into words for my kids was a little bit painful, but writing it was really simple, as it's just my story. And guess what? I know my story better than anyone else in the world. And so it was really easy to do.
Wow. So cool. I love the book, like, I think it was one of my first books that talks about racism and it really helped me understand it way much better.
That's awesome. Hey, can I ask you a question?
Oh, sure. I'm up for any questions.
Have you ever thought about writing?
Oh, yeah. Like a month ago, I was writing my own little journal about A Kids Book About Love and I think I might be wanting to write a book about it.
Do you have any advice for me?
Oh, and advice? I think I could try out some advice.
Let's see. Thing one is I want you to remember, Kohen, that those things that are hard right now when you're young, but you know are right and good… make sure you focus on them and you do them because later on, they become a lot easier. And those things that other kids might look down on or think are silly, become really important when you become an adult. And you'll be really proud of yourself that you focused on them.
And I think you're already doing that work with Team End Racism. You're starting that work long before I did, as a young person. So congrats to you on that.
My second bit of advice is. Really learn to be patient with yourself and let yourself learn as you grow. You won't know everything in a single day or in a single year. You'll get smarter and know more and understand more as you grow up. And so just be patient with yourself—that you don't have to know everything now.
Each week on A Kids Book About: The Podcast, we talk about the big things going on in your world with a different author from our A Kids Book About series. This week CEO of Team End Racism, Kohen, interviews our CEO and author of A Kids Book About Racism, Jelani Memory.