As we reach our final section of this amazing book club, I am so glad to be looking into something I genuinely hadn’t thought much about before the recent events: Protest. I grew up in a small town where protests were something we saw on TV, not in real life. I always felt like an outsider when it came to protest, I had no experience with it, I had no context for it. Protests from history were always explained in a way that made them feel far away and unemotional. The protests on TV were always shared with a slant or agenda, and because I was completely uneducated on the idea of protest, it was hard to form my own opinions through the noise. I am so excited to hear how people in our club have had their minds opened by reading Starr’s account of protest and after exploring the resources below. Happy reading yall!
Reading: Chapters 23-26
1. From p. 389-90:
“They gave me the hate, and now I wanna fuck everybody, even if I’m not sure how.’I wanna do something,’ I say. ‘Protest, riot, I don’t care–”Riot?‘ Chris echoes. … ‘Starr, think about this. … That won’t solve anything.”And neither did talking!’ I snap. ‘I did everything right, and it didn’t make a fucking difference. I’ve gotten death threats, cops harassed my family, somebody shot into my house, all kinds of shit. And for what? Justice Khalil won’t get? They don’t give a fuck about us, so fine. I no longer give a fuck.'”
Once the grand jury decision is made public, unrest in Garden Heights begins anew. Patrol cars are flipped and set on fire; businesses are broken into, looted, and burned; the streets are swarmed by protesters, rioters, and looters. Why does the neighborhood react this way? Reflect on Starr’s reaction and what led her to that point.
2. There’s a lot of discussion around the nature of protest— peaceful, violent, etc. What methods of protest for racial justice have you seen throughout the last several years? Is peaceful protest always effective or accepted as appropriate? What methods of protest and social dissent have proven successful in enacting change throughout history? Why do you think so?
3. Starr vows to “never be quiet” (Chapter 26, p. 444) and that her commitment is beyond Khalil. Angie Thomas says, “I look at books as being a form of activism because a lot of times they’ll show us a part of the world we may not have known about.” Has this book changed or reaffirmed your views on the world? How so? What parts/passages of the book were most meaningful or important to you or made you see things a different way? How can you take steps to use your voice to advance racial justice?
Here are ways outside of the book that you can explore this topic with podcasts, videos, articles and social media!
1. I Am Not Your Negro – streaming on these platforms OR free with a library card from a library that subscribes to Kanopy
2. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution – rent or free with a library card from a library that subscribes to Kanopy
1. The Double Standard of the American Riot by Kellie Carter Jackson
3. Reading About Anti-Racism by Brian Herrick