Author and public speaker Khodi Dill’s latest, stay up: racism, resistance, and reclaiming Black freedom, is a book with a purpose: to provide guidance for young racialized people. He employs both his personal experience as a biracial Black man and his professional experience as a teacher to tackle this ambitious challenge and offer a road map to unlearning racist stereotypes and beliefs that denigrate Black, Indigenous, and other racialized people. He encourages his readers to embrace anti-racist education as a journey toward the liberation of all marginalized people.
Born in the Bahamas, Dill grew up in Saskatoon. The many personal stories from his youth offer a perspective on an experience seldom documented: that of a Black child growing up on the Prairies.
Dill’s background as an educator is showcased by the book’s format. Key concepts are introduced in boldface, and through a series of footnotes and large bubbles dispersed throughout the text, Dill explains complex concepts, including eugenics, white supremacy, and colonialism. Readers are provided all the essential information needed to better understand his message without having to reach for other sources.
stay up tackles topics – including white supremacy, internalized racism, chronic trauma, and the complexities of Black identity – that can be emotionally evocative for readers, particularly racialized readers who have experienced racism and discrimination. Artist Stylo Starr captures these emotions in intricate detail in her artwork. Many of the individual images in her collages highlight the aspects of Black experience – hair, protest slogans, rage, and joy – that are often points of contention. The images visually support Dill’s description of the intentional purpose of Black people showing emotions as resistance or as attempts to stay safe.
Because of Dill’s ambitious and broad purpose of providing anti-racist education so young racialized people can identify, address, and dismantle racism, stay up contains a mountain of information packed tightly into a handful of chapters. This may pose barriers to young adult readers. They may have difficulty working through the book without the support of parents or educators to guide their learning. stay up will likely best serve as a resource to facilitate discussion amongst students in a classroom setting where it can be studied in discrete parts.