Today we're excited to spotlight The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed.
Read on for more about Christina and her book, an guest post, plus an giveaway!
Meet Christina Hammonds Reed!
Christina Hammonds Reed holds an MFA from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. A native of the Los Angeles area, her work has previously appeared in the Santa Monica Review and One Teen Story. The Black Kids is her first novel.
Meet The Black Kids!
Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots.
Los Angeles, 1992
Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.
Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.
As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.
With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?
~ Guest Post ~
The bravery of six-year-old Ruby Bridges was famously immortalized in the Norman Rockwell painting The Problem We All Live With as she walks between armed guards, a thrown tomato splattered on racial-epithet-laden wall behind her. Some of the most impactful photos of the struggle for civil rights in the fifties and sixties are those of protesting children on the receiving end of police hoses and K-9 attacks, of teenagers having milkshakes and sodas poured over their heads and school clothes as they fought to integrate lunch counters. Freedom Summer was driven by the idealism of college students. In the eighties, college students demanded their universities divest from apartheid South Africa, creating a huge economic incentive for the US to cease their unwavering support of the segregated country. Change has always been driven by the young.
Even in death, children are the forefront of the calls for change – 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and subsequent deaths of four teenage girls as well as the lynching of Emmett Till haunted and served as a call to action for a generation. This is history. It’s also very much our present. Young people today grew up in the shadow of the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice. They watched and listened to audio and video of the last moments of boys their own age, or the ages of cousins and little brothers, who didn’t get to grow to adulthood. It is these young people who in 2020 find themselves on the front lines against grown men and women in uniform, in riot gear. Like their forbearers in the struggle for civil rights, young people today are facing tear gas and batons, and even arrest while peacefully protesting the institutional and systemic racism and unequal policing that lead to the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, among so many others.
But there are so many ways to protest. There are many ways to impact change. For those of age, voting is one of the absolute most important ways to impact substantive change. Arming yourself with the knowledge of not only the presidential candidates, but also your state and local officials and their positions before you go to the polls is one of the most meaningful ways to create change in your own backyards. Learn as much as you can about how the system works. Write your politicians. Petition for change in your schools. For those too young to vote, change can perhaps be more subtle, but no less meaningful. It can look like challenging your own preconceived ideas, challenging both yourself and those around you to be better, kinder, and more empathetic to people who may, at first, seem vastly different from you. Sometimes that means hearing other people’s experiences of the world that might make you uncomfortable. Sometimes it means you yourself having uncomfortable conversations with people you love. For those of us who inhabit bodies that have traditionally been subjugated, the act of being and thriving, of carving out moments for joy and self-care can be their own little powerful forms of protest.
In my book, The Black Kids, the lead character, Ashley, is a bit sheltered, naïve and even a little selfish in regards to the struggles of other Black people and especially those of a different socioeconomic background. I very intentionally wrote her to be deeply flawed because I think it’s important to remember not where we start, but where we end up. Many people who want to be good and want to do good will make mistakes along the way. The key is to read, listen, watch and grow. As many young people and adults alike find themselves questioning everything they’ve known and educating themselves around issues of racism and inequality, they may recognize past behaviors that were damaging to others, or ignorant, or even just simply embarrassing. It’s ok. I firmly believe in the human capacity for change. Change around issues of social justice historically may have been incremental and often frustratingly slow, but it’s still progress.
The most important thing is not to let our past individual and shared historical mistakes derail us from committing to fighting for a future that includes and celebrates everyone.
The Black Kids
By: Christina Hammonds Reed
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: August 4th, 2020
Ten winners will receive a copy of The Black Kids (Christina Hammonds Reed) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*