Tiffany Jewell – This Book is Anti-Racist
Debut author Tiffany Jewell chats about her intended audience, challenges and family life
Author Tiffany Jewell is a Black biracial writer, parent and Montessori educator who has been doing the work of dismantling white supremacy through education for fourteen years. In addition to her job as a teacher, she has designed curriculums, given workshops, and presented at conferences on her work addressing social inequity through the lenses of race, class, immigration, and gender. She is also the cofounder of #AntiRacistBookClub, an Instagram (@tiffanymjewell) campaign that recommends anti-racist books. Her debut book, This Book is Anti-Racist (Quarto) is the first book about anti-racism published for teenagers and aims to empower young people to disrupt racist systems that previous generations have put in place.
Who did you write this book for? Why is it important?
I wrote This Book Is Anti-Racist for everyone. It is the book I wish I had when I was nine years old. I wrote it for my classmates in third grade. I wrote it for all my former students who always want to know more and want to know that, even though they’re young, they have the agency to make positive impactful change in our world. And, it’s the book I want my children to read. This Book Is Anti-Racist is not just a book for young folks, it’s for parents, caregivers, and families and for educators and administrators. I wrote it for all the students and children who live in our racialized society (which is everywhere). It is a book for our ancestors and for our futures. And, it’s for all the young BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), like Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice, who suffer the consequences of systemic racism and violence and should not be simply memorialized in our hashtags and remembered on their death days.
My hope is this book will open up doors for a deeper understanding of our collective history of racism. It is a global issue and impacts us all every single day. Everyone who reads this will have the opportunity to reflect, grow, and move towards working in solidarity with others. Readers are encouraged to build their anti-racist capacity and create action that disrupts racism. I hope every reader will see themselves in this book and be moved to work towards liberation.
What was an unexpected challenge while writing this book?
I had no idea that writing daily would have such a strong impact on my physical well-being. The physical toll of writing on a small laptop was a lot for my body. I just recently finished physical therapy for my neck and shoulders because it got to the point where they were so sore I could barely turn my neck. And, still, I have to limit my computing time and need to switch it up- standing desk, elevated screen, bluetooth keypad and mouse, talk to text app on my phone, etc. I am not used to spending much time on a computer. My work as an elementary Montessori teacher did not require me to spend more than an hour (at most) on my laptop each day, so it was a total shock to my system!
Writers, please take breaks from writing, do exercises to strengthen your shoulders and necks; posture is so important!
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I continue to work at our local Montessori school as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. You can often find me writing anti-bias anti-racist curriculum for classrooms. I love to cook and bake. I enjoy reading and watching British murder mysteries and listening to podcasts (especially the Nod, CodeSwitch, and Good Trouble Media). We’ve been playing a lot of board games in our family recently and I love spending time reading with my children. (I’m literally typing this while the three and a half year old is snuggled next to me reading his brother’s graphic novels!)
What does your family think of your writing?
They’re really proud of me. My eight year old loves to share the book with folks we know and keeps a copy next to his bed. He’s also given away so many buttons and stickers to help promote the book. Seeing how excited he is for the book and my writing endeavours is amazing. My husband took the kiddos away a couple of weekends while I was writing and has been a big support in helping me create a physical writing space and really picked up all the things I dropped while I was on deadline and continues to as I embark on all things book related. Recently, the 8yo confirmed the release date for the book because he wanted to add it to his classroom calendar; that’s one of my proudest moments as a writer and a mama.