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Antiracist baby in Japanese

In the community we lived in on Ikijima there is a kids club that meets every Friday after school. A local non-profit put together a small office out of bits of wood and corrugated plastic to do its work. It had a concrete floor and big table in the center for meetings. There were strategic maps on the wall beside which were handmade shelves that sagged under the weight of donated toys and books. Every Friday this space was made available after school until 5 o’clock for elementary kids to gather and do homework or just hang out. Occasionally there volunteers show up — young adults who help the kids with their homework. We went pretty much every week that it wasn’t shut down due to corona. We planned some fun year-end events for the kids there too.

Before we left Japan we wanted to give the clubhouse a small gift, a book in English that a lot of the kids could understand. I am a big fan of Ibram X. Kendi after reading his astonishing book How to Be An Antiracist (a 5-star book on Goodreads for which I never wrote a proper review, but you can see my status update notes here.) His book Antiracist Baby had just come out in translation, so we bought the English and Japanese pair and gave them to the clubhouse as a parting gift.

The English and Japanese versions of Antiracist baby sitting on a tatami mat

Reading through the books in English and Japanese, the translation is solid. As you can see below, the Japanese version has this nice touch where they explain English language text that appears in the illustrations. For example there will be little notes in the bottom right for slogans on signs, t-shirts, etc.

Watanabe Yukari did a great job. Here is the credits page where you can see some of the other stuff she has translated, including Call Them by Their True Names by Rebecca Solnit.

The end of the book features an essay about antiracism and the work IXK is doing by Akedo Takahiro, a scholar of racism and hate speech at Rikkyō University. This is very important context for the Japanese reader.

Antiracism Baby is super accessible, in both English and Japanese, with great artwork. I really hope this is successful and builds a market for a Japanese translation of How to Be An Antiracist. I mean, after what we saw in Japan during the BLM rallies, Japan really needs more books that properly explain racism and antiracism.