My 1-year-old loves to read 'Antiracist Baby.' As a white Jewish mom, I think everyone should have a copy.

My 1-year-old loves to read 'Antiracist Baby.' As a white Jewish mom, I think everyone should have a copy.
My baby reading her favorite book.Courtesy of Emily Jaeger
  • During Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation hearings, my baby's favorite book was mentioned.
  • As a white Jewish mom, I want my child to celebrate the diversity in our world.

In one of the odder moments of Ketanji Brown Jackson's Senate confirmation hearing on her nomination to the Supreme Court, Sen. Ted Cruz held up a dog-eared copy of a picture book. He then began questioning the judge about her position on teaching critical race theory in schools.

I immediately recognized the bright cover of "Antiracist Baby," by Ibram X. Kendi, my 1-year-old daughter's all-time favorite book. And if you haven't already contributed to the sudden uptick of "Antiracist Baby" sales, I urge you to grab a copy.

I believe this book should be in every home if we want to create a world for our children where everyone is equal.

My 1-year-old loves to read 'Antiracist Baby.' As a white Jewish mom, I think everyone should have a copy."Antiracist Baby" by Ibram X. Kendi$8.27 FROM AMAZONOriginally $8.99 | Save 8%$8.27 FROM BOOKSHOPOriginally $8.99 | Save 8%


I want my child to celebrate diversity

As a white Jewish mother-to-be, I received this book as a gift while my daughter was still in utero. I was already onboard with the idea that babies, while not inherently born with views about race, are easily influenced by their surroundings. I also believe that a crucial part of parenthood is raising children who recognize the humanity in all people while simultaneously celebrating diversity.

But I still had to laugh at some of the complex language. Kendi encourages the antiracist baby to "point at policies as the problem, not people."


So I was surprised to find that the moment my daughter started interacting with books on her own, at around 9 months, "Antiracist Baby" was her consistent first pick. She would pull it off the shelf and flip through the pages for 20 minutes. Considering the attention span of a 9-month-old, it felt like a weeklong silent retreat.

Once she was done looking through it on her own, I began to read it with her. We would act out the motions of each of Kendi's nine steps to overcome racism, from knocking over the cultural blocks to shouting, "There's nothing wrong with the people."

My daughter's copy of the book is now dog-eared, chewed, and spat-up on. Part of her fascination with the book is the bright pictures of diverse babies — active, involved babies, just like her. I swear she learned how to point her finger from a serious-looking baby in the book.

What makes "Antiracist Baby" such a great book is its optimism. Rather than accusing babies of being racist, the images of diverse, playful babies and step-by-step instructions to achieve antiracism paint a picture of what we could accomplish together.

My daughter makes herself noticed

My daughter makes her presence known. She bashes down the safety gates with the weight of her body so she can climb her favorite staircase, crawls faster when you tell her to stop, pushes her stroller around the neighborhood a mile a minute. She's independent and opinionated. See what happens if you try to spoon-feed her — it gets violent.


All of this is to say that while I may have mistakenly believed prepartum that my infant would be too young to participate in the work of overcoming racism, I was wrong.

Kendi's book empowers all young people, regardless of age and ability, to join in overcoming racism in any way they can.

If I create a home that values all human life, she will grow into it. If she's climbing, let her be climbing toward equity.

The language of "Antiracist Baby" and the lessons about systemic racism are there for the adults, too.

As white Jews, my family is part of a hidden minority that carries the weight of a persecuted past and uncertain future. I'm bringing my daughter into a world plagued by an uptick in antisemitism. Growing up in a Jewish community in the early 2000s, it felt alarmist and weird to consider the possibility of recent events like the attack on a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.


Even if my daughter is not a part of the minority specifically addressed in "Antiracist Baby," her fate — and all our fates — are tied up in abolishing hate toward one another.

I strive to be an antiracist adult with an antiracist family, following our antiracist baby into the just world she'll help build.