Title: Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Guide to Racial Injustice
Authors: Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP & Marietta Collins, PhD, & Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP
Illustrator: Jennifer Zivoin
Publisher: Magination Press
Publishing Date: June 11, 2018
Something Happened in Our Town is a book that addresses the tough issue of continuing racial injustice experienced by African-Americans by law enforcement officers. The story is told from the eyes of children as they try to understand why such a thing would happen in today’s world. Throughout the story there are parallels between slavery, Jim Crow/Civil Rights Era, and modern day policing of African-Americans both in the language of the book and in the awesome illustrations!
The story opens with the news of yet another African-American man shot by a police officer.
Two homes, two families…one Caucasian and one African-American. Two different conversations about the same incident…
Emma, a young Caucasian girl, ask her parents why the police shot the man.
“It was a mistake.” …Mother
“They thought he had a gun.”…Father
“It wasn’t a mistake…it was because he was black”…Older Sister
“He is brown, not black”…Emma
The family then goes into a discussion of the labels black and white. Slavery and the damaging pattern of racism against African-Americans in America.
Step into Josh’s home. Same topic, different discussion. Josh questions whether the police officer will be held accountable and if he will go to jail.
“…he won’t go to jail”…Father
“Cops stick up for each other…”…Josh’s brother
“Sometimes white people are treated better than back people…it’s not right”…Mother
This story will open up the doors to some important and heavy issues that children are exposed to in today’s society. Issues of race, discrimination, stereotypes, racial profiling, entitlement…
A Parent Guide is included after the story to help continue and facilitate the conversation. The guide includes definitions for words such as prejudice, immigration, discrimination… Suggestions on how to answer hard-hitting questions that children may ask or remarks they may make such as: “I don’t want to play with him because he is black/white.” and ” What should I do if I am stopped by a police officer?” Included are also questions parents can pose to their children such as: “Do kids in your classroom ever get teased?” and “What would the world be like if everyone was the same?”
It is sad that we are still having the same conversations about race in this country as were had over fifty years ago! Sadder still that we must continue to constantly address these issues with our children. But this is the world we live in and until we change ourselves and our way of thinking, it will remain the same. Maybe starting this discussion with young children will help facilitate the change we all need!
Something Happen in Our Town was received courtesy of Magination Press and NetGalley. This review is based on my own opinion.