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Last year brought challenges. It also brought opportunities for compassion, community, and patience. In addition to the pandemic, racial unrest throughout the country forced us to think about how we make a community work for everyone. This year, renew your commitment to personal and community growth. In the spirit of spreading knowledge, here are some tools and tips for achieving your resolutions and becoming a more informed and engaged citizen.

Talk to your family about race

Research from the American Psychological Association shows some preschoolers may have already developed racist beliefs well before adults start talking about race with them. Infants can even start to notice racial differences. This can lead children to form preconceptions about race that are sometimes damaging, according to psychologists. Parents play a significant role in shaping kids’ values and helping kids embrace diversity. For tips about starting these  conversations, check out “Talking to your Kids about Race and Racism” on our Race Relations page.

But don’t stop there! Teaching involves many small moments where parents are consistent and intentional. To help with these teachable moments, we’ll be adding to our race relations resources for families. Our February 6 Saturday Afternoon Adventure will focus on music and include how people in the US have used music as protest. February 13 will demonstrate the ripple effects of kindness and how kids can build empathy and compassion for others. These will also be archived on our Saturday Afternoon Adventure page.

Additionally, our Garden to Table series will focus on local food justice, with activities and videos available February 20 to help families talk about who has fair access to fresh, healthy, affordable food and learn about fair wages and treatment of those who harvest, prepare, and serve the food we eat. See who is taking action to make a more equal food community in Ypsi.

Make your reading lists more colorful

According to the latest stats, 50% of 2018’s children’s books featured white characters. Only 10% featured African/ African American characters; 7% featured Asian/Pacific Islanders, 5% featured Latinx characters, and only 1% featured American Indians/First Nation characters. Courtesy of Black Men Read, assess your reading list to make it more diverse by asking yourself things like:

• How many of your book selections feature a character of color?
• How many are authored or illustrated by a person of color?
• If the story features a character of color, does the story talk about hardships or oppression, or does it talk about joy and create a whole, relatable person?

Visit the Power of Stories section of our Race Relations page for more thought-provoking activities and advice. Additionally, to celebrate Black History Month, all of our storytimes in February will highlight black authors.

Read to become anti-racist

Browse our comprehensive reading lists both by and about people of color. From How to be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi, to An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, you can find opportunities to learn from experiences that may not be familiar. Many are available on Overdrive or Hoopla. Visit our Race Relations page for reading lists to pick from.

So you want to talk about race cover image

Plug into and share community news and resources

Many people and organizations in our community work tirelessly to make a difference. Perhaps you saw the Concentrate story about Kallista Walker, a local woman who started a video series featuring leaders of color reading books. It’s wonderful to see these local stories in the media. Organizations like the Washtenaw County Health Department, Corner Health, United Way, EMU Engage, and the Office of Community and Economic Development provide tons of services for people in need, from food to housing help and beyond. Follow their social media to stay informed. Commit to finding and sharing great local news stories and resources that paint a more lively and positive picture of our community.

Participate in programs about race

Check out YDL’s upcoming virtual events that support and highlight people of color. See our events page for all of these events and more!

Jan 17 & Feb 21
SAFELY TALK ABOUT RACE & RACISM WITH LA’RON WILLIAMS
2:00 PM

Jan 25
COMMUNITY FORUM: RACE, RACISM, AND INJUSTICE IN SCHOOLS
4:00PM

Jan 26 & Feb 23
AFRICAN AMERICAN AUTHORS BOOK DISCUSSION GROUP
7:00 PM

Jan 27
STRATEGIES AND CELEBRATIONS FOR MINORITY BUSINESS OWNERS: PANEL DISCUSSION
6:00 PM

Feb 5 & 6
AMERICA WITHOUT RACISM: MAKING THE VISION A REALITY
Feb 5 | 6:00–9:00 PM
Feb 6 | 1:00–4:00 PM

Feb 13
OPENING OUR HEARTS THROUGH WRITING—CELEBRATING AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN POETS
11:00 AM

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