Dear Martin, by Nic Stone, is not only a book I loved, but also a book I needed to read. I don’t think I have the right words to do this book justice.
I appreciate the influx of YA books that deal with racial injustice, police brutality, and institutional racism. I didn’t know we needed these books, which clearly illustrates why they are essential.
As I read The Hate U Give last summer, I vividly remember Starr reminding herself what to do when she gets pulled over by the police. I thought to myself, “my parents never taught me what to do if I got pulled over.” Then a few seconds later, “oh…” realizing why it was never a necessity.
This moment haunts me still, knowing just how much I don’t know. Whose fault is it that I grew up in privileged naiveté, thinking our society was doing just fine? Mine? My friends? My parents? My teachers? All of the above? That all doesn’t matter now. The important thing is that it’s my responsibility to continue to educate myself, empower my students to look at the world through a critical lens, and seek out ways to promote equality. I’m grateful for books to lead these conversations, make me question the way I and others see the world, and challenge me to ask more questions.
On to Dear Martin. Justyce is from a rough neighborhood, but attends a prominent prep school outside of Atlanta. After he is put into handcuffs by a white police officer for doing nothing, Justyce begins a quest to follow the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One particular thing I loved about the book is that it is told in the 3rd person, yet the “Dear Martin” letters are in 1st person. This dynamic made the letters even more powerful, as it was a window into how Justyce was feeling and thinking.
And, I seriously love Doc, who teaches the Social Evolution class. I don’t usually vote for book to movie, but I’d support this one just to see the classroom scenes! The discussions are rich and powerful. I had to reread them multiple times, just to process all the viewpoints. Jared’s white-centric lens is what perpetuates institutional racism, as he has incredible trouble hearing anything that doesn’t fit into this box. We can’t let the Jareds of this world block us from having these conversations!
I’m grateful for the We Need Diverse Books and #ownvoices for pointing my reading journey in a more inclusive and diverse direction. I’ve added so many books to my to-reads list, and pre-ordered quite a few on Amazon. Definitely check out both of these communities!
I highly recommend this book! And, it’s going on my all-time favorite books list!