Editorial | Anti-Racism

S.A. Shepler (c) 2020 Community Word

Racism and anti-racism do not come with on-off switches. Anti-racism is a continual learning process. It requires practice. Everyday offers unique opportunities to learn, understand and embody anti-racist thought and practice.

Mistakes happen. Nothing along this journey will be perfect, but mistakes need to be recognized, acknowledged, analyzed and used as catalysts for change. Other countries have done this with greater degrees of success than America. Contrary to some assertions, America has not transitioned to a postracial society because of the election of Barack Obama.

How do we proceed toward becoming anti-racist?

That’s where Jessica Stephenson, owner of Lit. on Fire, can help. Stephenson’s independent bookstore at 712 W. Main St., has both new and used books and an extensive selection of books on race.

Her No. 1 pick for learning to become anti-racist: “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” by Ibram X. Kendi. This New York Times bestseller is also a National Book Award winner.

Stephenson is on her second complete reading of the book and has read many sections repeatedly.

Racism in America “starts with not having education that accurately presents true struggles,” she said. “What we are teaching kids was written by the victors –– the oppressors.

“One of the most effective tools we have to dismantle racism is to learn about it. When we learn more about the struggles of African Americans and the Indigenous, we understand more about white privilege, and we can no longer sit in ignorance and inactivity. To be anti-racist requires doing something, requires working to dismantle the system and working for policy change.”

In Germany, the Holocaust is studied in school but in America, an alternative history is glorified she said, failing to recognize stolen lands, raped women, genocide, enslavement and brutalization. She favors some form of reparations.

“We need to recognize the concept of generational trauma that applies to all marginalized people,” she said.
Some may find “Stamped from the Beginning” difficult to handle, Stephenson said, adding “It walks you through historical racist and anti-racist thought in America. Some people can’t handle the ramifications of that. Some people will have to take this book in with little bites. This is a book I will return to over and over. I’ll be continually reading it.”

“Stamped from the Beginning,” explains the evolution of racism in America through the lives of five major American intellectuals: Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois and Angela Davis.

For children, Stephenson recommends the picture book “AntiRacist Baby” by Ibram X. Kendi. For young readers in the 8- to 15-year-old range, she recommends “Peace, Love, Action” by Tanya Zabinski.

Don’t be fooled by misleading statements; The graduated personal income tax is a fair tax

On Election Day Nov. 3, Illinoisans will have the opportunity to vote on a Constitutional amendment to allow for a graduated income tax rate to replace the current flat tax applied to all wage earners.

The fear mongering and partisanship are ramping up. Don’t be hoodwinked. The graduated personal state income tax will not raise taxes but will lower them for 97% of Illinoisans.

Ask a child in grade school: should millionaires and billionaires pay the same tax rate as people working three part-time jobs earning minimum wage?

People arguing against the graduated income tax don’t have facts on their side so they manipulate numbers, cherry pick statistics and toss out fear and innuendo.

The graduated income tax is called “the fair tax.” Most states, including those surrounding Illinois have a graduated income tax.

Take advantage of fact-based reporting and research when determining how you will vote. Don’t be misled by these recent blurbs from headlines: “let Illinois crash and burn” and “worst possible time to raise taxes.”

Instead, go to the not-for-profit Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and read the research: States with graduated income taxes are more than twice as likely to cut taxes than to raise them:

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