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A Good Kind of Trouble: Black Resistance

Each year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) selects a Black History Month theme. ASALH is regarded as an authority on the topic of Black History and the source for themes for the month for many educational and public institutions. This year’s theme is “Black Resistance.”

Black Resistance is the collective and individual struggle of Black people of the diaspora against anti-Black racism. Specifically, in the United States, this resistance was born out of the lasting legacy of the transatlantic slave trade. Although chattel slavery has ended in the US, Black people still experience violence, systematic disenfranchisement, and exclusion from health care, education, and economic, political, and social life. At its core, Black Resistance is about the fight for justice, equity, inclusion, and freedom in all its varied forms. Read more about Black Resistance on ASALH’s web page.

This month, we’re hearing from Saniya Cunningham, a student at Kuumba Academy in Wilmington, Delaware, and a keynote speaker at EL Education’s 2022 National Conference: A World of Good. We asked Saniya to recommend a book that has been instrumental in her journey of practicing Black Resistance. Here’s what she had to say:

Hello, everyone, and happy Black History Month! My name is Saniya Cunningham, and words can’t express how honored I am to share my experience with Black Resistance with the EL Education community.

I’ve read many books, but one I truly connect with my journey toward practicing Black Resistance is A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée.

This amazing book is about the journey of seventh-grader Shayla Willows, an African-American scholar at Emerson Junior High. The book was especially powerful to me because Ramée writes it from Shayla’s perspective. I saw Shayla’s viewpoint as a middle-school student and read excerpts from her journal as I followed her story of Black Resistance.

When a police officer is declared innocent of shooting a Black man in the back–despite clear video evidence–Shayla learns about the Black Lives Matter movement and realizes that some trouble can be good trouble.

John Lewis, a former American politician and civil rights activist, said, “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and redeem the soul of America.” Lewis was saying that you must involve yourself in the universal fight for equality, even if it seems like troublemaking to others.

Shayla makes good trouble in the book by practicing Black Resistance and standing up for what’s right. One of the most important moments of her story is when Shayla defies her principal to give out Black Lives Matter armbands. She demonstrates that standing up for what’s right sometimes requires standing up to the people in charge.

A Good Kind of Trouble flawlessly ties in the reality of racism through the eyes of a Black middle-school girl trying to find herself in the strong tides of society. The book shares an underrepresented story about how racism affects everyone.

If you’re looking for a book that can connect to the younger audience emotionally and tells a story rarely talked about, A Good Kind of Trouble is the book for you.

Disclaimer: EL Education is proud to host diverse voices and offer a platform for dialogue on topics impacting educators and students. Views of guest bloggers are their own and may differ from the views of EL Education.

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    Saniya Cunningham