Oak Park engages in self-paced ‘Challenge’

Built as a yearlong, self-paced reading program to offer intentional learning experiences, the Anti-Racism Resource Challenge features specially selected books, media, articles, websites, and more—all from the library’s two curated anti-racism resource guides:

Adults and high schoolers are invited to participate—no Oak Park library card is required.

In February, the Oak Park Public Library launched the community’s first Challenge. Through February and March, 90 individuals registered for the challenge; 21 of these readers were active and completed a total of 73 activities. One participant completed the entire challenge in just the first two months!

While engaging with the materials and programs on “History”—the first of four challenge themes—participants shared their reflections in Beanstack. This is the cloud-based digital tool the library is using to help participants track their individual progress, as well as collect overall program feedback and metrics.

What Challenge participants are saying about their learning

From Beanstack, here are a few reflections shared by participants so far:  

On “racial capitalism”:

“Racial Capitalism allowed for unprecedented economic and technological growth in this country, which benefits the white race. But it has also resulted in the social and political underdevelopment of the white race. The conclusion of this is that no one truly prospers unless we all prosper, and while this country’s economic growth may have been phenomenal, it is not sustainable because it occurred as the result of an unequal system.”  

After reading the article “Racial Capitalism and the Structural Roots of White Nationalism” by Matt Birkhold

On history influencing the present:

“I read Stamped with my middle schooler. I had not previously understood various moments in history in a way that illuminated the role racism and white supremacy have played in the current state of housing, education, our prison system, etc.”  

Reflecting on the book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

On “code switching”:

“Prior to today I wasn’t familiar with the term, but realized I was familiar with the impacts. Over the years I have met people who have indeed conformed who they were to better fit into society. I agree that our diversity should be celebrated. The things that make us unique should not be seen as a detriment. I am hopeful that society is heading this way!”  

After watching the TEDx talk by Chandra Arthur, “The Cost of Code Switching”

Seven related library programs in March and April— including a collaboration with 11 local public libraries to host Dr. Eve L. Ewing in a virtual fireside chat— earned positive participant survey feedback.

In fact, 81% indicated they agreed or strongly agreed that they learned something new as a result of their participation; 87% said they would recommend the program to others; and 90% said they would attend another similar program in the future.

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