[NFBV-Potomac-Announce] March Book Club

John Halverson jwh100 at outlook.com
Sun Feb 28 21:09:48 UTC 2021

Our March book is Stamped.

It will make us all think and should help us have some  great discussion.

I believe Christine is the discussion leader.

We will meet at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, March 3 by Zoom.  I should have the Zoom information tomorrow.

Below are a series of questions.


Discussion Questions
Reynolds tells the reader this book is "NOT a history book. This is a book about here and now. A book to help us better understand why we are where we
are. A book about race." Daksha Slater, a New York Times Bestselling young adult author, said "reading this compelling not-a-history book is like finding
a field guide to American racism, allowing you to quickly identify racist ideas when you encounter them in the wild." Moreover, Stamped equips readers
with vocabulary like "segregationist", "assimilationist", and "anti-racist" in accessible language for young readers. It equips them with examples of each
and an understanding of how these labels are fluid. This book will allow students, teachers, and the Marist community at large to have a common language
and a guide we can use to make progress and dialogue moving forward as we combat racial injustice together.
For black audiences, it is likely that some of the ideas presented in this book will not be new or shocking. Through this book, we hope to shine a light
on some history that is often overlooked in the typical American classroom. For white audiences who are often used to being at the center of the narrative,
this book may be uncomfortable at times; however, as adults, it is imperative that we show our children it is not only okay but encouraged to step outside
of our comfort zones in order to grow.
Because the book's accessible language and conversational tone can seem offhanded to some, we encourage readers to engage with the source notes at the
end of the book and the Marist Library Pathfinder resources. Moreover, we have provided students journal reflection prompts that could also make for good
at-home discussion.
SECTION I: 1415 - 1728 (Chapters 1-4)
1.       Using your own words, define the terms segregationist, assimilationist, and antiracist. Were you familiar with these terms before you started
reading Stamped?
2.       Why do words such as "race" and "privilege" seem to require, as Reynolds suggests in Chapter 3, a "breath break"?
SECTION II: 1743 - 1826 (Chapters 5 - 10)
3.  Write about how you've come to develop understandings about race. Consider the messages you've learned about race from the media, family, community,
school, and peers.
4. Consider any examples of racism that you've experienced or witnessed. Referencing the list of racist ideas in Chapter 6, explain why and how your personal
experiences with racism are tied to racist ideas that are hundreds of years old.
SECTION III: 1826 - 1879 (Chapters 11 - 14)
5.       At the beginning of Stamped and in this section, Reynolds asserts, "Life rarely fits neatly into a box. People are complicated and selfish and
contradictory." Describe two or three of the complicated figures mentioned in Stamped. What makes them complex?
6.       Reynolds uses the following simile to describe racism: "Freedom in America was like quicksand. It looked solid until a Black person tried to stand
on it. Then it became clear, it was a sinkhole" (p. 108). He also uses the following metaphors and descriptors: "racist roadblocks," "racist loopholes,"
and "potholes"(p. 110). Choose one of these comparisons or descriptors and explain what you think he means.
SECTION IV: 1868 - 1963 (Chapters 15 - 20)
7.       W.E.B Du Bois and Booker T. Washington had distinct strategies and approaches to Black liberation. Describe a few characteristics of each of their
approaches. How were they different? Which do you align with more and why?
8.       Reynolds discusses The Souls of Black Folk by Du Bois, and Du Bois's concept of double consciousness: "A two-ness. A self that is Black and a
self that is American" (p. 124). Why might people of color feel this way? Do you ever feel as if your identity is divided in some way? Write about your
own personal experience with a "two-ness."
9.       As seen with movies like Tarzan, Planet of the Apes, and Rocky, pop culture and media have played a large role in reinforcing racist ideas, whether
their stories are overtly racist or are a bit sneakier in their propagation of racist ideas. What current movies, TV shows, and stories promote racist
ideas, and how?
10.       Reynolds demonstrates how racist ideas in the fields of science and mathematics-from eugenics to the creation and purposes of IQ and standardized
tests-have been created and used to oppress Black and Brown people. Which of the theories he puts forward were shocking to you? Why?
11.   Stamped traces Du Bois's complicated stance on race and racism. List examples of things in your life that fit into each of these categories: assimilationist,
segregationist, or antiracist. Is it possible to be all three in the span of a day? Why or why not?
SECTION V: 1963 - TODAY (Chapters 21 - 28)
12.   How was the emergence of hip-hop music a force for "driving change and empowerment" (p. 211)? In what ways does "Fight the Power" offer a powerful
critique of mainstream America that is still relevant today? Who or what is the power?
13.   Racism is so embedded in our lives that even everyday expressions that might seem harmless are in fact examples of the power of language and the
ways words and phrases associate blackness with negativity. Examples include words and phrases such as black sheep, blackballing, blackmail, blacklisting,
black mark, and blackout. What are some examples of other such terms given in the book that are used to describe race without ever saying "Black people"
or "White people"? Did you ever realize until now that these phrases carry racial undertones? Why or why not?
14.    In this section, the authors discuss the legacy of coded racial policies such as the Southern Strategy, the War on Drugs, and the Violent Crime
Control and Law Enforcement Act that devastated Black communities and the ways this continues today. How do policies that disproportionately affect one
group of people prevent America from having a truly free and fair society?
15.   In Stamped, Reynolds exposes and debunks the myths of several master narrative themes such as: America is a meritocracy, meaning anyone who works
hard enough can succeed; truth and justice (or law and order) should be valued; people should be colorblind. In what ways is a color blindness approach
toward race not only disingenuous but dangerous?
16.   What surprised you in this book? What angered you or made you sad? What are two or three questions that came up for you while reading?
17.   After finishing Stamped, how do you feel about the history of racism? What habits and actions can you implement to promote antiracism?
These discussion questions were adapted from resources provided by the publisher.
Educator's Guide
Book Club Guide
main region end

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