Sunday, July 11, 2021

"Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness": is this children's book kindness, or simply indoctrination


June 2020 protests in DC meant boarding properties

Author, illustrator: Anastasia Higginbotham

Title: “Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness

Publication: Dottir Press, 2020, ISBN 978-1-9483-4000-7, hardcover, illustrated heavily, 65 pages, hardcover.

I bought this book to find out for myself what kind of indoctrination is going on.  This is a series of four books about “ordinary terrible things”  for children (also divorce, death, and sex).  

First, many observers maintain that Critical Race Theory is not the same as “anti-whiteness”.  Dr. Karlyn Borysenko says that much, and equating the two will only motivate the far right further.

The “contract binding you to whiteness” appears on p. 59, and on p. 60 reminds you that you do not have to “sign on to whiteness”.  But others have maintained that whiteness is system and ingrained so that most “white” people are not aware of it. So on the surface this book actually contradicts Robin DiAngelo. 

I grew up in the 50s and 60s, and was not immediately affected by the Civil Rights Movement.  In seventh grade, in 1955, we were taught about Brown v. Board of Education.  In the DC area we would read about the unrest in the South, including the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964, but it seemed distant.

The problem, in my thinking, comes if you want (white) people living today to be held personally accountable for the supposed unearned benefits from the past on a history that used slavery, and seizure of indigenous lands, sometimes.  We have seen civil rights for black people and other minorities slowly improve since the mid 1960s, to the point that many minorities succeed well as individuals, but where statistically more black people remain in poverty (also some other groups like Latinos) than those of European descent.  But the idea of expecting “white” people to suddenly take this seriously today is novel, although it was certainly aggravated by the Trump administration and then events like Charlottesville and January 6.

So I am not so concerned with educating people about a theory, just as you educate people about communism or fascism.  But I am concerned about manipulation and indoctrination of pre-teens through high school students, although I don’t know how much this is going on.

Timcast IRL (video above) examined a “Workbook for How to Be an AntiRacist” (Amazon)  which is a handbook accompanying Kendl’s book written by a third party.  The book goes on to jumble up critical race theory with intersectional groups around sexuality and gender.  This is being used in some public school systems but would not be part of academic critical race theory.

My practice is to place the Amazon ad in a review of a book I have bought and read, even if I find its contents problematic.

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