The Ypsilanti District Library (YDL) recently added to its growing list of resources on race relations by launching a virtual Anti-Racism Town Hall series.
"Community Conversations: A Virtual Town Hall for Ypsilanti Families" will take place at 2 p.m. Aug. 1 via Zoom. Leading up to that event, YDL is posting weekly on the library's race relations page, highlighting different organizations focused on racial justice with suggestions for anti-racism activities families can do at home.
The complete lineup for the Aug. 1 virtual town hall isn't confirmed yet. But Kristen Hamilton, a paraprofessional for the library's youth services department who has been leading the Town Hall effort, says three or four of the people highlighted in YDL's weekly posts will be in attendance. They'll discuss the community organizing they're doing and how to have productive conversations about anti-racism at home and in the community.
The library's first weekly post featured Black Men Read and included an activity about decolonizing your bookshelf. A second post focused on Hero Nation, and the activity led children through how to create a social justice comic book. A third focused on Washtenaw My Brother's Keeper and the topic of uplifting youth voices.
"The activity is about grabbing the mic," Hamilton says. "That means making space for your own voice and taking up space for your own voice but also the idea of really passing the mic to other voices that aren't being heard in the same way, and uplifting those voices."
Hamilton says the focus on children and families is intentional, and she notes that even infants can recognize faces and see differences in skin tone. It's important to start early and normalize conversations about race, she says.
"We need to open up that dialogue and make it so they won't be afraid to have these conversations and they'll know how to build up that empathy in their hearts for other people that may not look the same," she says. "It's not a matter of being 'colorblind' and thinking that everybody should be the same. It's the idea of talking about and celebrating everyone's differences."
Caregivers and children who want to send questions for the town hall event in advance may email email@example.com. More details about how to dial into the Zoom meeting will be available on the Ypsilanti District Library's social media. Links to the library's anti-racism posts, as well as other resources like book lists and recommended documentaries, can be found here.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Ypsilanti District Library.