Photo credit: JBoy Photography
As America undergoes a reckoning with the legacy of racism, the call for justice has rung for over 400 years. It’s a call that has stirred me since my first awakening as a young teen activist searching for ways to make progress on social justice. While writing This Is My America
, I was determined to pull back the layers that the Black Lives Matter movement elevated into American consciousness after the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman. While the media focused on police brutality caught on tape, I wanted my novel to diagnose it as a symptom of a much larger problem by addressing the systemic issues that plague our criminal justice system. In addition, dispel the myth that acts of white supremacy are not just white cloaks in organizations of terror, but engrained in the DNA of our country — the untended roots of racism at our core. At my novel’s release, never did I imagine it would be during a time our country was in its rawest form of grappling with its history.
In a world filled with darkness, I have always looked for the helpers. Through my work with young people and service in the community, I’m rejuvenated in my philosophy of optimism. It is what draws young people to activism and awakens those who have long forgotten how moving a dream for civil rights can be. This is what fueled me in writing an unflinching yet uplifting story — an aspiration for an America that has lived too long in dream form, but this time rings differently, with our streets calling for justice, and books by Black authors and anti-racist works selling out across the country.
This Is My America
serves as an ode to young people who are determined to end the cycle of racial injustice through awareness and action. As a literary activist, I am part of a tradition of authors who document insights to understand our state of affairs and imagine Black freedom and liberation. Through the power of story, I find hope. Here are eight powerful collections of essays and memoirs that explore the complexities of racism and hold aspirations of justice and liberation.
Join us for our virtual event with Kim Johnson and Ibi Zoboi on Sunday, September 20, at 2 p.m.
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held leadership positions in social justice organizations as a teen. She’s now a college administrator who maintains civic engagement throughout the community while also mentoring Black student activists and leaders. This Is My America
is her debut novel. It explores racial injustice against innocent Black men who are criminally sentenced and the families left behind to pick up the pieces. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and the University of Maryland, College Park. Kim lives her best life in Oregon with her husband and two kids. Find her at kcjohnsonwrites.com
and follow her on Twitter