A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The book illustrates scenes of Black history in the United States without specifically naming people or events.
You should always be proud of who you are. Know your history. Dream big and change the world.
Positive Role Models
Famous influential Black Americans are illustrated in the book, but are not specifically named. A father teaches his children about the importance of knowing their history.
A Black father teaches his children about the importance of knowing their history. Famous influential Black Americans are illustrated. People of varying genders, ages, body types, and sexual orientation are represented.
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Violence & Scariness
In the portrayal of the sit-in, White Americans are shown taunting Black protestors. Most are pointing and shouting. One woman holds a sign that says, "No Negroes." A White man pours a bowl of food on a Black man’s head.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Who Are Your People? is by attorney, political analyst, and best-selling author Bakari Sellers. It's a message to Black children urging them to know their history and appreciate their culture. Famous influential African Americans, from Harriet Tubman to Barack Obama, appear in illustrations throughout the pages, though not named. The book also depicts historical scenes, from escaping slavery to staging a sit-in; the latter of which contains racist imagery that may be triggering to some readers and which certainly lends itself to important conversations among readers from all backgrounds. Including these images without the historical context may do a disservice to some readers, as it assumes that all readers know the history and fails to provide the opportunity for further reading and learning for those who would like to know more. Throughout the text, Sellers encourages young Black readers to know and honor their heritage, as they are standing on the shoulders of those who came before them and are poised to change the world. Though the book focuses on the Black tradition, the message about honoring your ancestry can be applied to readers from all races and cultural identities.
Is It Any Good?
This timely release is fantastic for messaging, but some illustrations and word choices will raise eyebrows. Who Are Your People? is geared towards African American readers, and is simple yet inspirational in how it celebrates Black history. While African American readers will be able to identify, readers from other backgrounds will get to learn about Black culture, heritage, and historical figures. Since the historical figures and events are illustrated only (not named), the experience of reading this book can launch readers into more research about Black history.
More care could have been taken in the editing process to ensure that the illustrations were in alignment with some word choices. For example, one page includes Stacey Abrams as an image in the clouds with famous Black icons who have passed away. Images of Barack Obama and Kamala Harris appear on pages that mention, "Your people were trailblazers" along with other past-tense verbs that also give the impression that these important figures are no longer with us. It would have enhanced the reading experience to include a list of the influential people and historical events illustrated in the book so that families have a starting point for continuing to learn about the lives, contributions, and experiences of African Americans. Despite these drawbacks, the important message about knowing your people can be motivation for readers of all backgrounds to dig deeply and uncover their ancestry, and in the process, uncover themselves.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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