Do the Work! An Antiracist Activity Book by W. Kamau Bell & Kate Schatz

c.2022, Workman Publishing                                     
176 pages

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor

You’re almost out.

Out of energy, ideas, motivation, totally depleted from all you’ve been doing lately. Seeing racism, acting against inequality, speaking out against it, fighting for your friends and family, it all takes a toll and when you’re just plain tired, you need something to help you focus. You need Do the Work! by W. Kamau Bell & Kate Schatz to energize you.

So you’ve been fighting racism and, at this point, you’re simply “exhausted” over it all. This process isn’t easy and eliminating racism won’t happen overnight, but take a breath. This book is meant to help you in many ways. For sure, it’ll help white people – but it’s also for anyone who needs ideas on fixing what’s broken.

The first thing to do is to talk about it. Having a discussion on racism and why white people do this or Black people do that may seem scary, but conversation helps sort thoughts and foster an understanding. It also helps clear the air, if you talk respectfully.

Do you know your privileges? If you’re white, you probably grew up not even realizing that you have any – but you do. Acknowledging that is hard – these are the things that benefit you, after all – and to “check your privilege” is necessary before moving forward. You’ll also want to know that privilege is fluid.

Learn how to spot racism when it’s hidden, because what you see every day is “just the tip of the iceberg.” Remember that you don’t hate history, you “hate history class!”  Get to know some heroes who already “did the work.” Learn how Jim Crow laws and redlining worked to entrench racism in the last century, and how gerrymandering does it now. Make a protest sign, play some games, take a quiz or two, color a page with markers or crayons. Know the history of policing Black people. “Get dirty” by being an ally. Remember that you’re going to make mistakes and you “might not win.”

The seriousness of both subject and effort aside, Do the Work! is actually quite a fun book. Authors W. Kamau Bell and Kate Schatz use humor, facts, and (beware!) four-letter words to get their points across, but this book also offers breathing-room relief from the anti-racism job in the form of relaxing playtime, quizzes, places to draw or fill-in-the-blanks, slots for note-taking, and informative games to try.

That doesn’t make it fluffy, though. Surrounding the fun & games are firm words that white people and allies need to read, ideas to ponder, and statements to make you squirm, presented chaotically with an invite to dip in and out at will. Despite the occasional silliness and the feeling of running wild sometimes, then, it means business for the baffled, befuddled, and determined alike.

Judging solely on the swears and other language in here, this workbook is absolutely for older teens and adults only. You can bring small children along on your journey, but Do the Work! is a book of which you’ll want to keep them out.