The Blurb On The Back:
Civil Rights Stories
Discover the powerful real-life stories of racial inequality from history and from around the world. The colour of your skin shouldn’t mean that you are treated badly and with prejudice. But discrimination by white people against Black, Asian and indigenous peoples, means that racism affects the happiness and safety of millions.
Civil rights are the rights that all people should have, no matter who they are or where they live. But not everyone enjoys equal rights. Civil Rights Stories shines a light on some of the people, movements and moments in the struggle for equality – a struggle that continues to this day.
Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
Anita Ganeri is an award-winning children’s non-fiction writer and Toby Newsome is an award-winning illustrator. This powerful book for readers aged 7+ (part of a series on Civil Rights Stories) examines examples of racial injustice throughout history and across the world and gives a potted history of white supremacy and prejudice that explains how this history has created present day inequality and discrimination for people of colour.
The book has a foreword by Arike Ore, the Managing Director for the Black Cultural Archives, who says that this book will assist parents and carers of children to explore the issue of racial equality. I think that the book does live up to that and does really well in describing racial inequality and the historic basis for the same.
Ganeri takes the reader through examples of white supremacy from slavery, to the treatment of Aboriginal people in Australia and indigenous people in America, the scramble for Africa to Windrush, the US Civil Rights movement and apartheid in South Africa. She then finishes by looking at the impact on modern culture, Black Lives Matters and racial equality today. Newsome’s illustrations are really good and complement the points that Ganeri makes while also depicting people from the struggle such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.
The different sections all do a very good job of setting out the historic basis for modern racial inequality, how it stems from white supremacy or white colonial thinking and joins the dots to how people of colour continue to suffer from the effects today. What works particularly well is that Ganeri lets the fundamental facts speak for themselves and it is very difficult to read this book without feeling angry about the underlying unfairness and stupidity of it. That said, given what the book is about and what its aim is, it is a shame that there isn’t any room within it to for even a sentence that acknowledges that there were white people who assisted in the battle against apartheid and the US Civil Rights struggle. I completely get that this isn’t the forum to raise a ‘not all white people’ argument but given right wing attempts to stoke so-called culture wars, I can sadly see this book being a victim of right wingers who object to white people being shown in a bad light which would restrict its potential audience.
That said, I thought that this was a strong book that does a good job of breaking down a complicated subject for young readers and I would definitely check out the other books in this series.