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Read This to Get Smarter

about Race, Class, Gender, Disability & More

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Paperback
$16.99 US
6"W x 8"H x 0.6"D  
On sale Oct 26, 2021 | 192 Pages | 9781984860545
| Grades 9-12 + AP/IB
An approachable guide to being an informed, compassionate, and socially conscious person today—from discussions of race, gender, and sexual orientation to disability, class, and beyond—from critically acclaimed historian, educator, and author Blair Imani.

“Blair answers the questions that so many of us are asking.”—Layla F. Saad, author of Me and White Supremacy


We live in a time where it has never been more important to be knowledgeable about a host of social issues, and to be confident and appropriate in how to talk about them. What’s the best way to ask someone what their pronouns are? How do you talk about racism with someone who doesn’t seem to get it? What is intersectionality, and why do you need to understand it? While it can seem intimidating or overwhelming to learn and talk about such issues, it’s never been easier thanks to educator and historian Blair Imani, creator of the viral sensation Smarter in Seconds videos.

Accessible to learners of all levels—from those just getting started on the journey to those already versed in social justice—Read This to Get Smarter covers a range of topics, including race, gender, class, disability, relationships, family, power dynamics, oppression, and beyond. This essential guide is a radical but warm and non-judgmental call to arms, structured in such a way that you can read it cover to cover or start with any topic you want to learn more about.

With Blair Imani as your teacher, you’ll “get smarter” in no time, and be equipped to intelligently and empathetically process, discuss, and educate others on the crucial issues we must tackle to achieve a liberated, equitable world.
© Maggie Shannon
Blair Imani is a critically acclaimed historian, author, educator, and influencer. The New York Times praised her unique ability to create “progressive lessons with vibrant visuals and a perky, quirky delivery.” Her viral microlearning series Smarter In Seconds demonstrates her signature style of making abstract concepts more concrete in a well-researched, well-presented, and concise manner. She is the author of Read This to Get Smarter about Race, Class, Gender, Disability, and More; Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and the Black American Dream; and Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History. Her work centers women and girls, global Black communities, and the LGBTQ community. As an educator and influencer, semi-retired organizer, and public speaker, Blair Imani is dedicated to making the world a better place and amplifying the voices and work of those fighting the good fight. View titles by Blair Imani
Introduction

Welcome! Thank you for being here. My name is Blair Imani, and I am an author, educator, and historian. I firmly believe that learning is a blessing, and my life is dedicated to learning and helping others learn. First things first: you are already smart. Intelligence is the ability to learn and apply information, and that is something that we all do every day. Even though we are already smart, we can always get smarter about the world, topics we’re not deeply familiar with, and the lived experiences of other people. Read This to Get Smarter explores how we can become more informed, compassionate, and intentional as we work to better understand ourselves, others, and the systems around us. Getting smarter is a journey, not a destination, and a great deal of our journey will involve unlearning. Patience, mutual respect, and perseverance are important tools to carry along the way.

It might be frustrating to realize that we will never be done in our learning journeys, but it’s also exciting because we can constantly transform our perspectives as more accurate information becomes available. Many of the understandings we have been taught and socialized to believe are based on the assumptions of long dead European colonizers who worked to maintain systems of supremacy and dominance instead of presenting fact, evidence, or truth. If we do not prioritize getting smarter, then we deny ourselves the full complexity of the human experience and instead subsist on inadequate and harmful assumptions. It is not my intention to present solutions to the myriad consequences of these assumptions—instead, I offer a starting place to achieve a shared understanding. Inspired by Smarter in Seconds, my viral thirty-second microlearning video series, Read This to Get Smarter utilizes my signature concision to make abstract and theoretical concepts more concrete in a well-researched, well-presented, and accessible manner. I do my best to educate others from a place of humility, and I am honored that you have dedicated a fraction of your time in this life to learn from and with me.

Read This to Get Smarter is divided into chapters on identity; relationships; class; disability; race and racism; and sex, gender, and sexual Orientation. Starting with ourselves and working outward, my goal with this book is to provide an important foundation of knowledge ready to be expanded. We will get smarter using information that is strongly supported by the decolonized historical and anthropological record, sociology, and the work of scholars past and present. This book contains valuable tools such as charts on terminology and corresponding explanations, guidance for interpersonal interactions such as how to apologize, and a comprehensive timeline on the invention of race. Every journey toward getting smarter is different, so feel free to read this book in order, skip around, and take notes throughout in as much or as little time as you need. Each chapter concludes with reflection questions to help you apply your new understandings—you can think about them, discuss them with a friend, or journal about them. Our very consciousness means we can Get Smarter and collectively experience the blessing of learning every single day. Let’s get started.
“Blair Imani is the teacher I wish I’d had at school, and the educator I'm grateful to learn from now. Read This to Get Smarter is a book the world sorely needs. Written in her signature style that blends deep learning with ease and approachability, Blair answers the questions that so many of us are asking ourselves. This book helps plug the gaps of understanding that so many of us have and supports us in becoming better human beings and better ancestors.”—Layla F. Saad, author of Me and White Supremacy

“As a young educator at Planned Parenthood, Blair Imani demonstrated her passion for teaching and building community. In Read This to Get Smarter, Blair provides a roadmap to better understanding the most important issues in our culture today, including race, class, gender, and disability. She approaches these important topics with humility and provides readers with the tools they need to get smarter.”—Cecile Richards, former president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

“Blair Imani writes about identity with a singular wit and accessibility that makes Read This to Get Smarter an essential guide for curious people of any age. The twenty-first century offers us countless opportunities to look foolish—in very avoidable ways, in front of lots of people—but thankfully, Blair is here to help.”—Jamal Jordan, author of Queer Love in Color

“If you want a deeper understanding of the multi-layer universe of people with disabilities, this book is a great place to start.”—Jillian Mercado, model, actor, and founder of Black Disabled Creatives

“Blair Imani’s Read This to Get Smarter is a necessary guide for anyone committed to justice in their personal and political lives. Imani approaches readers with a deep kindness and offers them concrete tools for thinking anew about race, gender, class, and sexuality, and for imagining a different kind of world.”—Jennifer C. Nash, author or Black Feminism Reimagined

“I did indeed read this to get smarter, and Blair Imani does not disappoint. As a queer Jew, to see such thoughtful passages reflecting my own identity left me even more inspired to continue to educate myself on the history and experiences of others.”—Jake Cohen, New York Times bestselling author of Jew-ish: A Cookbook

“I love Blair’s style of educating. Her fun and colorful personality (and fashion) really makes learning fun, but my favorite thing about Blair is how she calls on people affected by a certain issue or subject to speak on it and amplifies their voices. I wish more educators did that.”—Nathalie Emmanuel, actor

About

An approachable guide to being an informed, compassionate, and socially conscious person today—from discussions of race, gender, and sexual orientation to disability, class, and beyond—from critically acclaimed historian, educator, and author Blair Imani.

“Blair answers the questions that so many of us are asking.”—Layla F. Saad, author of Me and White Supremacy


We live in a time where it has never been more important to be knowledgeable about a host of social issues, and to be confident and appropriate in how to talk about them. What’s the best way to ask someone what their pronouns are? How do you talk about racism with someone who doesn’t seem to get it? What is intersectionality, and why do you need to understand it? While it can seem intimidating or overwhelming to learn and talk about such issues, it’s never been easier thanks to educator and historian Blair Imani, creator of the viral sensation Smarter in Seconds videos.

Accessible to learners of all levels—from those just getting started on the journey to those already versed in social justice—Read This to Get Smarter covers a range of topics, including race, gender, class, disability, relationships, family, power dynamics, oppression, and beyond. This essential guide is a radical but warm and non-judgmental call to arms, structured in such a way that you can read it cover to cover or start with any topic you want to learn more about.

With Blair Imani as your teacher, you’ll “get smarter” in no time, and be equipped to intelligently and empathetically process, discuss, and educate others on the crucial issues we must tackle to achieve a liberated, equitable world.

Author

© Maggie Shannon
Blair Imani is a critically acclaimed historian, author, educator, and influencer. The New York Times praised her unique ability to create “progressive lessons with vibrant visuals and a perky, quirky delivery.” Her viral microlearning series Smarter In Seconds demonstrates her signature style of making abstract concepts more concrete in a well-researched, well-presented, and concise manner. She is the author of Read This to Get Smarter about Race, Class, Gender, Disability, and More; Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and the Black American Dream; and Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History. Her work centers women and girls, global Black communities, and the LGBTQ community. As an educator and influencer, semi-retired organizer, and public speaker, Blair Imani is dedicated to making the world a better place and amplifying the voices and work of those fighting the good fight. View titles by Blair Imani

Excerpt

Introduction

Welcome! Thank you for being here. My name is Blair Imani, and I am an author, educator, and historian. I firmly believe that learning is a blessing, and my life is dedicated to learning and helping others learn. First things first: you are already smart. Intelligence is the ability to learn and apply information, and that is something that we all do every day. Even though we are already smart, we can always get smarter about the world, topics we’re not deeply familiar with, and the lived experiences of other people. Read This to Get Smarter explores how we can become more informed, compassionate, and intentional as we work to better understand ourselves, others, and the systems around us. Getting smarter is a journey, not a destination, and a great deal of our journey will involve unlearning. Patience, mutual respect, and perseverance are important tools to carry along the way.

It might be frustrating to realize that we will never be done in our learning journeys, but it’s also exciting because we can constantly transform our perspectives as more accurate information becomes available. Many of the understandings we have been taught and socialized to believe are based on the assumptions of long dead European colonizers who worked to maintain systems of supremacy and dominance instead of presenting fact, evidence, or truth. If we do not prioritize getting smarter, then we deny ourselves the full complexity of the human experience and instead subsist on inadequate and harmful assumptions. It is not my intention to present solutions to the myriad consequences of these assumptions—instead, I offer a starting place to achieve a shared understanding. Inspired by Smarter in Seconds, my viral thirty-second microlearning video series, Read This to Get Smarter utilizes my signature concision to make abstract and theoretical concepts more concrete in a well-researched, well-presented, and accessible manner. I do my best to educate others from a place of humility, and I am honored that you have dedicated a fraction of your time in this life to learn from and with me.

Read This to Get Smarter is divided into chapters on identity; relationships; class; disability; race and racism; and sex, gender, and sexual Orientation. Starting with ourselves and working outward, my goal with this book is to provide an important foundation of knowledge ready to be expanded. We will get smarter using information that is strongly supported by the decolonized historical and anthropological record, sociology, and the work of scholars past and present. This book contains valuable tools such as charts on terminology and corresponding explanations, guidance for interpersonal interactions such as how to apologize, and a comprehensive timeline on the invention of race. Every journey toward getting smarter is different, so feel free to read this book in order, skip around, and take notes throughout in as much or as little time as you need. Each chapter concludes with reflection questions to help you apply your new understandings—you can think about them, discuss them with a friend, or journal about them. Our very consciousness means we can Get Smarter and collectively experience the blessing of learning every single day. Let’s get started.

Praise

“Blair Imani is the teacher I wish I’d had at school, and the educator I'm grateful to learn from now. Read This to Get Smarter is a book the world sorely needs. Written in her signature style that blends deep learning with ease and approachability, Blair answers the questions that so many of us are asking ourselves. This book helps plug the gaps of understanding that so many of us have and supports us in becoming better human beings and better ancestors.”—Layla F. Saad, author of Me and White Supremacy

“As a young educator at Planned Parenthood, Blair Imani demonstrated her passion for teaching and building community. In Read This to Get Smarter, Blair provides a roadmap to better understanding the most important issues in our culture today, including race, class, gender, and disability. She approaches these important topics with humility and provides readers with the tools they need to get smarter.”—Cecile Richards, former president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

“Blair Imani writes about identity with a singular wit and accessibility that makes Read This to Get Smarter an essential guide for curious people of any age. The twenty-first century offers us countless opportunities to look foolish—in very avoidable ways, in front of lots of people—but thankfully, Blair is here to help.”—Jamal Jordan, author of Queer Love in Color

“If you want a deeper understanding of the multi-layer universe of people with disabilities, this book is a great place to start.”—Jillian Mercado, model, actor, and founder of Black Disabled Creatives

“Blair Imani’s Read This to Get Smarter is a necessary guide for anyone committed to justice in their personal and political lives. Imani approaches readers with a deep kindness and offers them concrete tools for thinking anew about race, gender, class, and sexuality, and for imagining a different kind of world.”—Jennifer C. Nash, author or Black Feminism Reimagined

“I did indeed read this to get smarter, and Blair Imani does not disappoint. As a queer Jew, to see such thoughtful passages reflecting my own identity left me even more inspired to continue to educate myself on the history and experiences of others.”—Jake Cohen, New York Times bestselling author of Jew-ish: A Cookbook

“I love Blair’s style of educating. Her fun and colorful personality (and fashion) really makes learning fun, but my favorite thing about Blair is how she calls on people affected by a certain issue or subject to speak on it and amplifies their voices. I wish more educators did that.”—Nathalie Emmanuel, actor

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