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Ibram X. Kendi's book, Cbabi Bayoc's illustrations encourage kids to be antiracist

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Courtesy
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Janice Checcio and Cbabi Bayoc
Author Ibram X Kendi and St. Louis-based fine artist and illustrator Cbabi Bayoc.

Author Ibram X. Kendi and artist Cbabi Bayoc want children to imagine a world where racism is put to bed.

Kendi’s lyrical prose and Bayoc’s vibrant illustrations comprise the children’s book “Goodnight Racism,” which was published by Penguin Random House earlier this year. Kendi released his book “How to Raise an Antiracist” on the same day. The books work together as tools for parents who want to talk to their children about race.

“Many adults, and certainly many young people, are losing hope, or becoming even more cynical … imagining that change is impossible,” Kendi told St. Louis on the Air. “I think it is in those moments that we need to encourage our youngest people as well as ourselves to dream, imagine and believe that change is possible.”

The cover of "Goodnight Racism" by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc. An illustrated picture of a Black man tucking a young Black girl in to bed. They both look sleepy, happy, and calm.
Penguin Random House
"Goodnight Racism" is reminiscent of the classic children's book "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown.

Social change and acceptance are central themes in all of Kendi’s work as an author, professor and researcher of antiracism. These themes have also long been present in Bayoc’s extensive portfolio. Much like his murals, Bayoc’s illustrations in “Goodnight Racism” depict “what our world [could] look like when everyone is accepted.”

“Throughout the book, it's not just one family, it's many different types of folk,” Bayoc told St. Louis on the Air. “You can’t tell where everybody is from. The smiling and interaction between individuals shows love. Love, in my opinion, doesn’t really have a language. It's an expression.”

Kendi and Bayoc both expressed the importance of imagination in creating a children’s book — particularly when the goal is to encourage younger readers to imagine a world that is different from their own.

“Imagina[tion] has allowed people over the course of history to create change,” Kendi said. “Nurturing [children’s imagination] through what could happen if we put racism into the night is, to me, the beauty of this book.”

Ibram X. Kendi will hold a virtual discussion about antiracism in the workplace with Washington University in St. Louis on Wednesday.

Related Event
What: Olin Business School at Washington University: Diversity Perspectives discussion series — Antiracism and Social Justice with Ibram Kendi
When: 4-5 p.m. Dec. 7
Where: Online. Register here

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org.

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