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  • Writer's pictureIshta Mercurio

Cover Collection 23: This Book Is Anti-Racist, by Tiffany Jewell, Illustrated by Aurelia Durand, Des

Welcome to Cover Collection, my not-really-weekly-but-I-keep-trying blog series about the book covers I love and what makes them work. Today is Martin Luther King Day, and while there are a number of books with great covers about Martin Luther King Jr., I wanted to take today to highlight a book that, rather than being about MLK Jr. specifically, continues the work of teaching radical anti-racism that was so important to him.

Take a look at the eye-catching cover of THIS BOOK IS ANTI-RACIST, written by Tiffany Jewell, Illustrated by Aurelia Durand, and designed by Karissa Santos:


The first thing that jumped out at me when I saw this book is the use of color. Hot pink, turquoise, lime green, orange... The cover is populated with people of different ethnicities wearing clothes in a riot of colors, and the choice of a black background makes these bold colors POP. Those same bright bold colors are used for the title, which is accented with shadows in contrasting colors behind the main words in the text, making it jump out at you when you look at it. It's in your face, which--for a radically anti-racist book--is the only appropriate way to be. The colors on this cover wake you up, as promised by the subtitle of the book: 20 lessons on how to wake up, take action and do the work.

Speaking of waking up: can we go back to the people on the cover for a minute? Because these folx are AWAKE. They're dancing, crouching, posing, looking straight out at the person holding the book. Even the people shown in stationary positions, sitting or standing still, are not shown sitting or standing in a passive way: there is movement in their bodies. They're not passive. And, they're joyful! The work of anti-racism is *work*. It is an active state. It can be exhausting, but it can also bring joy, and these folx embody that action and joy in their postures, their body language, and their facial expressions. I love that.

Finally, I want to talk about the font: it's this cool, coming-apart-at-the-edges font that is reminiscent of graffiti or sidewalk chalk, and it's a subtle reminder that anti-racism is also anti-establishment. That it means decolonizing ourselves, which includes decolonizing our perceptions about what constitutes "art" and "prestige" and "acceptability." It's a call-out to graffiti art's history within the protest movement, and it's a stroke of brilliance.

There is, as always, more to love about this cover, but that's all I have time for today. It's your turn: what do YOU love about this cover? Drop your thoughts in the comments, and let's keep the conversation going!

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