March 20: Notes from a Fan Girl -- Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

Tonight, I rallied after our school board meeting to hear Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, the team who wrote All American Boys. WOW -- what a reward for rallying. I was a huge fan of the book, told in two voices of two experiences of police violence (one the black victim, one the white observer).

Here are some quotes that I will be taking with me:

JR, after telling a story of being stopped by cops when he was 16 (in a car that did nothing wrong, with 3 other black boys; made to lay on their bellies, handcuffed, the car totally searched):
  "We didn't realize we were living in a traumatic state... psychologically abused... made to feel small. Victims of police violence often don't die. But with that kind of trauma... they die a death every single day."

BK, after sharing his story of being stopped by cops when he was 16; and let go with no ticket, not even a warning. The cop said "Go home. Be safe. And keep your friends safe." "This is white privilege. Safety and comfort are not the same thing. Quinn (the character he wrote) had an invisible wall around him, and I wanted him to break down that wall... to choose to live in safety and justice for all."

JR writes because he wants to tell stories about kids like me. There are no books from his childhood that acknowledge what was going on: HIV. Crack cocaine. And hip hop music. So he writes so others can have "a relationship with language, an archive of your life."

BK asks us to not only be "against racism" but be actively anti-racist. Privilege gives you the option to opt out. Don't do it. Quinn attends the march, and we need to, too. Our actions say "This story is real. I heard you. I see you. It's not my story, but I acknowledge that it's true." He quotes Henry Louis Gates, Jr: "How dare I not have hope?"

WHAT A NIGHT of seeing hope through literature and readers. My heart is full, and I'm ready to be a stronger listener.

Jason, me, Deborah, Brendan -- BIG SMILES at 8:45 pm!


  1. How amazing! This book is still on my to-read list, but I need to bump it up! Another book that follows a similar storyline is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. If you haven't read it yet, go get it!

    1. Yes, Rachel -- I read it in one day and am buying it for all the high schools where I coacyh and tutor! Thanks for making sure I knew about it!


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