Review of The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth

The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth
edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson
Intermediate, Middle School    Crown    128 pp.    g
8/20    978-0-593-12161-0    $18.99
Library ed.  978-0-593-12162-7    $21.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-12163-4    $9.99

In the African American community, parents and caregivers engage their children in conversations aimed at helping them cope with racism and discrimination in a society that fails to respect their heritage, ethnicity, and race. This pervasively practiced ritual is called “The Talk.” The Hudsons (We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, rev. 11/18) here widen the scope to include other perspectives, including Latinx, Native American, and Asian American voices. In this honest yet inspirational and hopeful collection of seventeen works, including “letters, lists, poems, short stories, and essays” and art, thirty authors and illustrators share their experiences navigating the daunting challenges of preparing and protecting their children in a racist world. The diverse voices offer guidance on how to respond to stereotypical labeling and microaggressions, explore how and why racism exists, affirm self-worth and pride, and extol cultural identity. Each entry is illustrated with art that expands its message and theme. Accompanied by Erin K. Robinson’s Madonna-and-child-esque portrait of comfort, a poem by Nikki Grimes explores the feelings of a child who is called the n-word [NB: the word is spelled out in the text] by a friend’s father. In Tracey Baptiste’s story “Ten,” a Black mother gives her son ten pointers for surviving their routine traffic stop: “doing all of the things you need to so you can get back [home to family]”; April Harrison’s evocative double-page image of their hands in full view on the dashboard speaks to a reality of life and reiterates the relevance of the volume’s purpose. A well-conceived anthology that provides much-needed enlightenment and opportunity for both reflection and discussion. Back matter unseen.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Pauletta Brown Bracy
Pauletta Brown Bracy is professor of library science at North Carolina Central University. She is chair of the 2015-2017 Coretta Scott King Book Awards committee and serves on the 2017 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards committee.

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