Goodnight Racism

Image of Goodnight Racism
Release Date: 
June 14, 2022
Reviewed by: 

“Kendi’s Goodnight Racism is not your typical sweet fall-asleep lullaby. While delivered to young readers and sleepers with a tender touch, it is frank and to the point.”

A companion book to his #1 New York Times bestselling picture book Antiracist Baby, Ibram X. Kendi presents young readers and dreamers to Goodnight Racism, a bedtime story filled with hope about a better world sans racism, injustice, and inequality. Riffing on a classic, Goodnight Moon, Kendi invites the moon to take center stage as she welcomes the night and a nighttime of dreams, “Outside the window, peeking down from the night sky, the moon watches over us . . . The moon wants her light to kiss every child goodnight. The moon delights when every child falls asleep. Because the moon knows when we sleep, we dream.”

With sparse and poetic text, Kendi shows children at home, having dinner, and getting ready for bed. From the beginning, however, he notes “but some kids do not have food, do not have beds because of unfair rules and unjust treatment.” It is sensitive subject matter handled with clarity and directness. And through the voice of a maternal moon, Kendi expresses his wish for equality, “The moon sees all kids—whoever they are, wherever they are—and shines her light on them.” Cbabi Bayoc’s textured digital illustrations warmly depict an array of families and ethnicities, skillfully bringing Kendi’s words to life and drawing the reader in with accessible and relatable images.

As the children fall asleep and begin to dream, Kendi further reveals his dreams for the world, “When we dream, we imagine what is possible, what the world can be, and the moon glows a little brighter, whispering, Dream, my child; imagine, my child. A new world—a new future—awaits.” This is a world that keeps all people safe, regardless of appearance, religious beliefs, or sexuality. “A world where all kids have the same chance to have peace, to have joy, to have a childhood.” He adds, this world would have clean air to breathe, ample nutritious food to eat, and equal access, “A world where our rules open doors, open minds, and create equity and justice for all.”

The story ends with such poignancy, “Goodnight unfair rules. Goodnight cruelty. Goodnight injustice. Goodnight inequality. Goodnight hate. Goodnight hurt. Goodnight racism. Goodnight.” Kendi’s Goodnight Racism is not your typical sweet fall-asleep lullaby. While delivered to young readers and sleepers with a tender touch, it is frank and to the point. The world is harshly racist, unjust, and unequal. People are not seen or treated in the same way. And it will take big dreams and big actions over time to rectify. Kendi’s message, however, is one of hope: that one day the world will be safe and fair to all people. His nighttime dream is actually a wake-up call: Let us continue our collective efforts to end racism, injustice, and inequality. And let’s do so by showing our children what a better world can look like, generation by generation.