“Stamped” Antiracist Reading Group, Mississippi—Tracei Willis, Wendy Zagray Warren


The Mississippi Satellite opened an invitation to educators who signed up for an intensive weeklong reading, reflecting, and discussing Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Our group comprised 16 participants from New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Alabama, and of course, Mississippi. Our first virtual meeting on Sunday, June 14, 2020, focused on building community among participants and discussing how we became interested in antiracism work. We set up a Google Classroom as a brave space to share our thoughts and build our resources over the intensive week of the book study. Our second Zoom meeting was held on June 18, 2020 for a lengthy discussion of sections 1-4 of Stamped. Our final Zoom meeting to discuss the rest of the book was held on June 21, 2020. People were so engaged in that conversation, they didn’t want the time to end. In fact, after all was said and done, the group decided it shouldn’t end. A collective decision was that the group should re-convene in August to read Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist and extend our learning in community.

The immediate impact of the book study was clear, as a few “spin-off” projects immediately developed. These projects involve both Mississippi educators and students. One Mississippi participant created a Social Justice Book Club based on the TOLI Mississippi seminar model. Before we had even finished our book study, she had already created her Google Classroom forum, and the study she led launched immediately after and included a diverse group of 20 educators and a few college students from Mississippi State University. Another Mississippi teacher from our group was approached by the parent of one of her 4th grade students and asked to lead a group of rising 5th grade boys in a book club focused on Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. The parent purchased books for all ten members of this book study group! A third Mississippi educator is planning to use the Mississippi Google Classroom model to conduct a book study group with her students in the fall

Here are a few of the participants’ comments:

“I feel more hopeful as an individual because there is strength in numbers. There is difficulty in often feeling like you are “going it” alone, but I felt an affinity space from this group which has inspired me to be more vocal in my opposition to white supremacy and racism.”       —Charlsie Wigley, Alabama educator    

“I definitely feel changed. My perspective has expanded and I feel like it has given me the vocabulary and insight to have an educated conversation with others about what we can do to make our society one that is equal.”  –Shannon Caraway, Mississippi educator   

“I understand things historically that I never understood, which helps me to see things from the perspective of my Black and Brown friends in ways that I never have before. It increases my sensitivity to my own actions and words and creates more empathy. It also helps me to better communicate when I am faced with discussions around racism. It makes my experience as a white person less about being “wrong” today in what I do or say and more about being uninformed and wrong in my lack of understanding, wrong in my attachment to my egocentric white perspective. I can change that though. I can’t change my privilege, but I can change what I understand and how I apply that privilege.”   —Leslie, Fye, Mississippi counselor  


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