‘Central Ohio’s Largest Book Club’ to discuss book about racism

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The Columbus Metropolitan Library has joined with eight other library systems in Central Ohio in hopes of sparking conversation and thought around the topic of race and social justice.

It’s being called “Central Ohio’s Largest Book Club” and that’s probably right.

The book they have chosen is “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You”, written by Jason Reynolds. It is adapted from “Stamped from the Beginning”, written by Ibram Kendi.

Right from the first line of the book, Reynolds wants to make a point that this not a history book.

“I hate history books. When I was a kid, to say something was a history book was to almost guarantee that it was boring,” said Reynolds.

Don’t get him wrong, the book contains plenty of history. “Stamped” traces back the roots of racism in America all the way back to the 15th century and brings it to today.

“I think it’s sort of set up to mirror, if this happened then, what does this mean for us now for when we turn on the television or the radio or read the newspaper, and we hear certain words,” said Reynolds. “Like so and so is a thug. A thug got captured. A thug has been arrested. Well, that thug is 15. That’s not a thug. That’s a child.”

But the book also focuses on the work of antiracists through that time.

“As long as there has been racism, slavery and all the other things that have plagued America, there have been people fighting against it,” said Reynolds.

With social justice, such a hot topic this year, picking “Stamped” felt like the right book at the right time for the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

“This is a book that can speak to all audiences and we have to really focus on where we’ve been in order to have a better future and we think that this book will do that,” said Gregg Dodd, marketing director for CML.

The book was intended for young people originally, but readers of all ages have turned to it to learn more about our nation’s past and present. Reynolds hopes books like this will encourage schools to teach the full history of race in America.

“There’s always the fear of turning a young person against its country but the truth of the matter is this is how you become a true patriot. To critique a thing is to love it. To tell the truth about a thing is to love it. And so ultimately, what I’m pushing for is for teachers to respect young people enough to tell them the truth or to at least start the conversation around the truth,” said Reynolds.

The library is holing virtual book discussions this month and next with community leader to offer reflections on the book and the public dialogue about race. The book club program will conclude on January 24 with a free virtual talk with Reynolds. The program will be moderated by NBC4’s Matt Barnes.

You can find more information about the book club, here.