Light for the World To See: A Thousand Words on Race and Hope

HMH. Nov. 2020. 96p. ed. by Alexander, Kwame. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780358539414.
Gr 7 Up–This slim volume collects three previously published poems about racial injustice in the U.S. In a foreword, Alexander calls it a “rally in verse.” Each poem is starkly presented, with large font set against a simple yet clever gray scale design with pops of pale yellow. The first poem, “American Bullet Points,” opens with the title repeated against white and yellow strips, crisscrossed to evoke caution tape at a crime scene. Then, like a bulleted list, this poem relays things Black Americans cannot do without fear of violence. The poem undulates in a consistent, metrical rhythm and juxtaposes racist assumptions with their deadly consequences: “we can’t be unarmed / we can’t shoot ourselves.” The next poem, “Take a Knee,” opens with a design that suggests an upside-down American flag with mass graves for stars. The poem also references slain Americans—“take Tamir / take Trayvon”—while delivering a steady, unwavering, and insistent beat. The final poem, “The Undefeated” (the collaboration with Kadir Nelson that, in picture book form, won the 2020 Caldecott and received a 2020 Newbery Honor), ends the collection on a hopeful note, invoking all the ways Black Americans have, throughout history, overcome incredible challenges.
VERDICT This collection poignantly captures the pain, rage, injustice, and resistance that mark this moment in American history. A solid purchase for all teen collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing