A new group on Facebook has set out to help impact the Western Dubuque School District communities. The group is called Western Dubuque Community Books for Change — no child is too young to learn about racism. Through this page, people have the ability to donate books or Amazon gift cards to the cause.
“This is a grassroots idea that came through an invitation to meet in Jodi Kremer’s driveway to brainstorm ways to impact change in our community as a response to the protests around the killing of George Floyd and systemic racism,” Jeffrey Haverland, director of governance, assessment, licensure and diversity at the University of Dubuque, said.
People can donate books by going to the Facebook page and clicking on the Amazon link. The page went live June 17.
“Currently, we are focusing on purchasing 20 books for eight elementary schools both public and private in the Western Dubuque District,” Haverland said. “Our hope is to expand to middle and high school once we meet our current goal.”
The group hopes to find books that go beyond superficial representations of persons of color to provide perspective, opportunity and new learning. The hope is to offer things like diversity, perspective, empathy, acknowledgment, inclusivity, compassion and love.
“Our goal truly is to allow children of color to see themselves represented in books in a meaningful and empowering way while giving all students an opportunity to acknowledge and explore important differences in our fellow humans,” Haverland said.
He believes that everyone has a responsibility to be better people and be actionably aware of the fact that skin color has an impact on the well-being of many in the community.
“What I love about books is that they give us the opportunity, in our own time, to explore concepts and ideas that may ultimately change our behavior and beliefs,” Haverland said. “Literature offers us all a safe space to exist while wrestling with complex issues and considering new ways of thinking and acting.”
This group feels that books will be a useful passage to relay these stories and information to better the community.
“Literacy is a tool that has been used throughout history to empower people to rise up against inequality,” Haverland said. “By providing books and stories that challenge students to see the world differently, we open up the possibility that they can impact change.”