A nonprofit linked to the “cancellation” of Dr. Seuss’s books and Nickelodeon’s race-based special has teamed up with Google’s charity arm to create an “anti-racist” book list for K-12 teachers.
La Jolla, California-based The Conscious Kid supports taking actions that “disrupt racism” in young children by promoting “age-appropriate” “anti-racist” literature. The organization’s website offers a slew of books for children and young adults including titles such as “Woke Baby,” “M is for Melanin,” and “Hey Black Child.”
The website also promotes the book “Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea,” a children’s book written by Meena Harris, the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris.
In June, Google’s charity, Google.org, announced that it would partner with the nonprofit by curating a list of reading materials and lesson plans that support “inclusive, anti-racist K-12 classrooms.”
The tech giant said in a press release that it supports The Conscious Kid’s embrace of critical race theory — the theory that America is intrinsically and immutably racist.
“We’ve also teamed up with experts at The Conscious Kid to curate a list of teacher-facing reading materials as well as evaluation criteria to consider when bringing new resources into the classroom,” the Google press release reads. “The Conscious Kid’s selections are informed by intersectional race-center approaches including Critical Race Theory and Critical Race Media Literacy, which examine representation in the content, as well as the power dynamics behind the ownership, production, and creation of it.”
The book guide says it was “created with support from Google for Education” and encourages educators to “re-evaluate” teaching classic books and opt for “social justice books” instead.
“Re-evaluate ‘classic’ books or stories which can convey and reinforce outdated values and messaging of sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, ableism, or colonialism,” the guide reads. “Choose social justice books to help push back against embedded biases and reinforcing values of sexism, racism, or ableism.”
According to the guide, books must “counter whiteness as the norm or definition of success” and avoid showcasing a character of color that succeeds when “conforming to white values or norms.” So-called “white values” include individualism, objectivity, and a sense of urgency.
The Conscious Kid sends “anti-racist” books to teachers for free for use in classrooms. “If you are an educator, administrator, school counselor, or librarian at a Title I elementary school, you are eligible to apply to receive a set of these books for free,” its website says, noting that “Within 8 hours of launching this application, over 3,000 educators in all 50 states applied to receive anti-racist children’s books for their schools. We will be sending books to all of them.”
On the nonprofit’s website, it thanks jewelry designer Kendra Scott for donating $20,000 to launch the fund to donate “anti-racist” books to schools and libraries. The nonprofit also boasts that it sent over $1.3 million in COVID-19 “rent relief” to families across the country, $700,000 of which went to black families and $50,000 of which went to the “Black Trans community.” Large donors included actress Kristen Bell and journalist turned progressive activist Mona Chalabi.
In the four years preceding July 2018, the most recent period covered in tax filings, it told the Internal Revenue Service it had less than $50,000 in revenue.
Google.org’s partnership with The Conscious Kid is part of its broader campaign to “amplify diversity in public education.” It donated $5 million to DonorsChoose, a platform that teachers can use to crowdsource funds for classroom projects, and $1 million to #ISeeMe, an initiative that highlights projects submitted by black and “Latinx” teachers.
Other companies and publications such as Nickelodeon, School Library Journal, and Learning for Justice — the education arm of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) — have worked with The Conscious Kid in some capacity.
The Conscious Kid was co-founded by Katie Ishizuka and Ramón Stephens. Ishizuka is the Editor-in-Chief of the School Library Journal, the largest reviewer of child and young adult literature and content. Stephens is a Ph.D. candidate in education studies at the University of California-San Diego.
The duo is best known for their study that claimed the beloved author Dr. Seuss’s children’s literature is rife with “orientalism, anti-blackness, and white supremacy.” The study surveyed 50 Dr. Seuss books and concluded that there is not enough diversity in the children’s books, many of which were written in the 1950s and feature cartoon characters with green skin.
On March 2, which is Dr. Seuss’s birthday and “National Read Across America Day,” the publisher of Dr. Seuss’s literature announced that it would stop selling six titles, citing racist and insensitive imagery.
In celebration of that day, in place of Dr. Seuss, The Conscious Kid hosted Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Kamala Harris, to read “I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark.”
The Conscious Kid expanded its audience even more when, in June, it partnered with Nickelodeon for a children’s special entitled “Kids, Race, and Unity.” According to a Nickelodeon press release, the special featured the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and Ibram X. Kendi. The special also highlighted “teen activists who are fighting racial injustice.”
“A discussion guide as well as anti-racism resources, made in partnership with The Conscious Kid and Dr. George James, will be available on nickhelps.com and Nickelodeon’s social channels following the premiere of the special,” Nickelodeon said.
The Conscious Kid also operates a subscription-based Patreon channel for parents to help them better navigate the “intersections of race, equity, parenting, and education.” The monthly subscription fee goes towards compensating “educators or color for our time, labor, and experiential knowledge,” the organization’s social media presence, and more.
The Conscious Kid did not respond to request for comment.