A fist pump between two different colored individuals with the words "Deeper than our skins" overlay on the image.
Racial Equity

Deeper than our skins: from oppression to triumph

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In Brief

  • Public Libraries of Saginaw and the Saginaw County Juvenile Detention Center are teaming up to offer children at the detention center the opportunity to participate in a reading and discussion group that explores social justice, equity and race.
  • Public Libraries of Saginaw is one of 70 libraries in the nation to participate in the Great Stories Club.
  • The American Library Association, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, provides grant support for the Great Stories Club.

Why This Matters

You might think librarians sit at a desk all day stamping books upon check out and return. Instead, they are leading transformative work in more than 700 libraries across the U.S. through the American Library Association’s Great Stories Club, a program offering underserved youth with opportunities to read, reflect and share ideas and topics that resonate with them.

Take for example a juvenile detention center in Saginaw, Michigan. In May 2019, Isis Simpson-Mersha at MLive reported on the Saginaw County Juvenile Detention Center’s partnership with Public Libraries of Saginaw to bring a reading and discussion program to children at the Center. The partnership was made possible by a grant from the American Library Association, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, for Public Libraries of Saginaw to participate in the Great Stories Club series on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation.

At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, children are at the heart of everything we do. We’re committed to lasting, transformational change for children, families and communities. We also believe that racial equity and racial healing are essential to creating equitable conditions to propel vulnerable children to achieve success.

The “Deeper Than Our Skins: The Present Is a Conversation with the Past” collection is grounded in literature that can help readers look beneath the surface of racism in America to reveal how the past is alive in the present. The powerful stories of oppression, suffering, resistance and triumph not only identify the roots of racialized experience today, but inspire discussion around how to construct a more equitable future.

the opportunity

Read along! The following books are part of the “Deeper Than Our Skins” collection:

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano
  • Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
  • The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Sonny Liew
  • Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. by Luis J. Rodrigues

Do you to engage others in the discussion, but are not sure where to start? Download the “Deeper than Our Skins” sample discussion questions for the reading list and/or host a racial healing circle.

Did you get to the end of the reading list and are looking for more? “Deeper than Our Skins” has a related reading list.

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