WRL and W&M Libraries' "One Book One Community" Returns with Author Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds
Author Jason Reynolds will lead a virtual book talk on February 22.

Williamsburg Regional Library and W&M Libraries are once again partnering for One Book One Community, an initiative that encourages readers to come together and have shared experiences. This year’s book selection is Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. This #1 New York Times bestseller is an eye-opening and accessible exploration of race and racism in the United States. Virtual programs related to this title will take place throughout the months of January and February, culminating with a virtual talk from co-author Jason Reynolds on February 22 at 7 p.m..

One Book One Community debuted last year, with Tommy Orange's bestselling novel There There as the inaugural read. This year's series will follow the same general pattern, with lectures, book group discussions, and other programs taking place in the days and weeks leading up to a virtual visit from one of the co-authors.

Stamped is a powerful book that provides a very accessible, very important overview of 500+ years of racism and antiracism in the United States,” said Carrie Cooper, dean of university libraries at William & Mary. “Our hope is that this book will prompt thoughtful intergenerational discussion about critical issues facing our nation and our local community.”

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is a reworked version of Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. Kendi tapped Reynolds, who has won Newbury, Prin, and Edgar awards for his young adult fiction and poetry, to help him "remix" Stamped from the Beginning in order to make it accessible to a wider audience. The finished product is an approachable and thought-provoking survey of African American history from the time of the first European slave traders all the way through today's Black Lives Matter movement, written in a fast-paced narrative format.

WRL and W&M Libraries have planned several opportunities for students and community members to come together and discuss the book itself and the themes it touches on. The series kicks off on January 13 with "Learning about Racial Trauma," a presentation that aims to peel back both the comfortable and uncomfortable layers of individual and collective experiences around the topic of race. This discussion will be led by Chloe Edwards, the Advocacy and Engagement Manager for Voices for Virginia’s Children, whose specialization is trauma-informed care and equity.

Next up, on January 26 author Bill Sizemore will share his experience confronting the legacy of his slave-owning ancestors. Sizemore traced the descendants of the people enslaved by his family through the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, and the Civil Rights movement. His book, Uncle George and Me, was the result of his 8-year search and his growing understanding about how self-induced amnesia on the part of people in his position prevents a dialogue about slavery and its ongoing and crippling effects.

Barbara Hamm Lee, host and executive producer of WHRO’s Another View, will moderate a January 27 discussion about race and racism, its history in our region, and its current effects. Participants are encouraged to join this conversation with their own ideas and questions.

On February 4, W&M's Dr. Natoya Haskins will offer conversation starters and strategies to help families have meaningful conversations about race. This program is a great jumping off point for parents and guardians of tweens or teens who are just beginning to come into a fuller understanding of these complicated and difficult topics.

A few programs will take place after Reynold's virtual visit, as a way to close the conversation and offer some next steps. On February 24, Amanda Lynch, a trauma informed specialist, will give a talk on healing from racial trauma through self-care. She will help attendees with accessing resources to help with healing from the wounds of racist actions.

Finally, on February 25 there will be a talk highlighting organizations around the region that are working towards racial justice, reconciliation, and progress towards an anti-racist society. This presentation will include information about their current work and how to get involved.

There will also be several group meetings to discuss the book itself. Adult readers can join a virtual conversation on either February 10 or 16, and teens will have an opportunity to talk about Stamped with their peers at a special teen-only book group meeting on February 18.

"We have received a great deal of feedback over the past year that racism and racial justice are topics this community wants to engage with more deeply," said Betsy Fowler, WRL's director. "We're thrilled to be partnering with William & Mary to not only encourage people to read this eye-opening book on the subject, but also give people an outlet to work through and more deeply understand the issues it raises."

Additionally, WRL was recently awarded a Beanstack Black Voices Microgrant -- making it one of only 40 libraries or schools across the country the receive that honor. Beanstack is an online reading log service created by Zoobean, Inc., and WRL has run the digital portion of its popular seasonal reading programs through that platform for the past several years. Zoobean created the Black Voices Microgrant program in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which advocates against racism and discrimination throughout the country. Microgrants were awarded to "bold projects that uplift Black voices" and allow libraries or schools to "establish or enhance local programs that advance social justice and equity," according to the initiative's website.

To expand the One Book event to a younger audience, WRL will use the $1,000 grant to purchase giveaway copies of Jerry Craft’s book New Kid, a 2019 graphic novel that deals with issues of racism, elitism, microaggression, and white privilege. The book, which is aimed at readers ages 8-12, follows 12-year-old Jordan Banks, an African American boy navigating his transition to a private school that lacks both racial and socioeconomic diversity. New Kid won the 2020 Coretta Scott King Award and was also the first graphic novel to ever be awarded the Newbery Medal. More information about this initiative will be forthcoming in the next several weeks.

WRL has numerous copies of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and YouStamped from the Beginning; and New Kid available for checkout. 

 One Book One Community Program Line-Up At A Glance:

Author Visit: Jason Reynolds -- 2/22 at 7 p.m.

Learning about Racial Trauma -- 1/13 at 2 p.m.

Uncle George and Me -- 1/26 t 7 p.m.

Barbara Hamm Lee: A Dialogue on Race -- 1/27 at 7 p.m.

How to Talk to Your Kids about Race -- 2/4 at 7 p.m.

Community Book Discussion -- 2/10 at 7 p.m.

Turning Pages Book Discussion -- 2/16 at 7 p.m.

 Teen Book Discussion -- 2/18 at 7 p.m.

 Self Care: Healing Racist Wounds -- 2/24 at 7 p.m.

 Community Resources for Racial Reconciliation -- 2/25 at 7 p.m.

 All programs are taking place virtually. For information about how to connect, go to libraries.wm.edu/one-book or wrl.org/onebook.