This month, MAR explores the theme of Reparations. Many think of reparations just in terms of financial compensation but reparations is really about repairing relationships. Repairing relationships with oppressed peoples. Repairing relationships with the land. Repairing relationships with ourselves. The foundation of reparations, and the ability to take accountability for our actions, starts when we are first learning to say "I'm sorry".
This month’s book list has been compiled as a group effort by our MAR volunteers and addresses themes of Reparations including saying sorry, making amends, taking accountability and what we need to be making reparations for. Next month we will be exploring the Indigenous experience on Turtle Island where we will continue our conversation of the need for reparations. Here are 25+ titles ranging from children's board books to Adult non-fiction relating to Reparations that you can add to your library today.
"In our home, we do not make our children say sorry to each other."
MAR Recommends: 25 Books on Reparations.
Reparations, as defined by the dictionary, means the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury. You will notice it does NOT mention apologies, or sending thoughts and prayers.
This is because reparations is more than just words; it is an act. There needs to be action.
In our home, we do not make our children say sorry to each other. Forcing a child to say sorry does not help them understand the injury they caused or how to take personal ownership. What they ARE taught are just the words they need to say to get out of trouble.
Instead, we practice reparations. If my daughter breaks her brother’s Lego creation, our focus is helping her find out how she can make it better with him. This may look like helping him rebuild it or her rebuilding it on her own. It may look like her sharing something of hers with him. It could actually be just a “sorry” and a hug. But it is not up to her to decide. She asks her brother what he needs for this wrong to be righted. Often he wants to be heard, have his upset feelings validated, and some help fixing what she broke. Through this process there is a greater sense of ownership and responsibility over their interaction. There is increased empathy and understanding for each other. And the amends that are made are authentic and genuine.
As adults, when we are talking about Reparations for Indigenous genocide, Black slavery, and continuing systemic racism, we are talking about what ACTIONS can you take to make it better for, and with, racialized people?
Educating yourself is great, but that action is for you, not for me.
Being a member of an anti-racism group or committee is great, but if you aren’t DOING anything, that action is for you, not for me.
Sharing a bunch of information on your Facebook or Instagram is great, but if you aren’t also pushing the dialogue in all your spaces, that action is for you, not for me.
Reparations can take many forms. From small acts, like being active contributors to conversations versus passive consumers, to large acts like giving land back.
Reparations is NOT, an eye for an eye. Black people are not looking to enslave white people and Indigenous people are not looking to run white settlers out of their homes and decimate their communities. Reparations is more mindful, more intentional, and does not seek to punish. Reparations seeks to repair, to heal, to mend - to make life fair, and just, and equitable for everyone.
To bring the practice of reparations into our homes and to instill this value in our children, we need to start with how we "relationship" with others. Are we givers or takers? Do we listen to understand or listen to respond? Do we practice empathy? These are all skills we can build in ourselves and in our children starting from babies when we treat them as people to be listened to and not controlled, to young adults when we help them take accountability and responsibility for their actions.
We hope this book list helps to give you a new perspective on reparations, gives you pause for reflection, and inspires you to seek out those areas when you can be making reparations.
*This month's list includes several titles by white authors. These books are denoted with an asterisk (*) in the title.
**We always recommend pre-reading books prior to reading them with, or giving them to, your children.
Board Books, Babies, Preschool
When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith
“When We Are Kind celebrates simple acts of everyday kindness and encourages children to explore how they feel when they initiate and receive acts of kindness in their lives. Celebrated author Monique Gray Smith has written many books on the topics of resilience and reconciliation and communicates an important message through carefully chosen words for readers of all ages. Beautifully illustrated by artist Nicole Neidhardt, this book encourages children to be kind to others and to themselves.” - Orca Books
I was Born Precious and Sacred by Francis Dick