In June 2020, in the weeks following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and worldwide protests drawing millions into the streets despite a deadly pandemic reminding us, once again, that Black Lives Matter, it’s easy to see why Chalice Press is grateful to be publishing The ABCs of Diversity: Helping Kids (and Ourselves!) Embrace Our Differences.
The idea for ABCs was suggested by Carolyn B. Helsel, author of Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism and Preaching about Racism: A Guide for Faith Leaders, shortly after her first book was published in 2018. She had met Y. Joy Harris-Smith, a full-time lecturer in Speech Communication in Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary with an education background. They realized they had the ingredients to write a version of Anxious for parents, teachers, caregivers, book clubs, volunteer organizations, and others who want to teach the children in their lives how to lead lives free of racism and filled with love and respect for all.
If you’ve had even a few conversations about people working to overcome their own racist pasts, inevitably you’ll hear stories of children learning racist behaviors from their parents. Racism starts at a young age, which means anti-racism also starts at a young age. Harris and Helsel recognized the need for a book that teaches adults how they can teach their children – knowing full well the adults will educate themselves in the process.
In The ABCs of Diversity, Carolyn and Joy share three sets of ABCs to help us reflect on and respond to issues of diversity:
Joy and Carolyn both know their stuff. They have professional experience, but they’re also parents of a pair of children. They share their stories of success and of failure with their families, encouraging each of us to keep trying even when we stumble.
Joy and Carolyn also recognize other stories can add to the conversation about raising anti-racist kids. “We also realize that you are already doing amazing things in the world to advocate for diversity, and so we hope to hear from you,” they write. “We hope this book will spark your imagination for community work that you can instigate to help bring about greater understanding among the people all around you…. Tell us what you do! If you are a teacher, you probably have a lot of advice you can share with us regarding what you are already doing and saying in your classroom to help your students foster a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all learners.” You can share your ideas with us and other readers at abcsofdiversity.com.
Unlike most Chalice Press books, The ABCs of Diversity comes from a secular point of view, though it is deeply rooted in the ethical and moral foundations of justice and equality followed by people of faith and those who choose to root their values outside typical faith traditions. That makes it a great suggestion for a parent-teacher association or a book club that might turn its nose up at a religious book.
While an understanding of racial diversity is the most pressing need in 2020, The ABCs of Diversity also addresses gender, class, religion, political affiliation, ability, nationality, and sexual orientation. Whatever diversity issue you need to address, Carolyn and Joy have supportive, effective suggestions that will equip you to have the conversations that will shape your child’s life – the conversations they will remember, cherish, and live out in their actions.
President and Pubilsher