“It takes you somewhere,” Kyra Pierce said.
What she and her sister, Phallon, didn’t imagine was finding a book they call racist on their 8th grade summer reading list: Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
“We found its original title – Ten Little N*****s – and found the cover of it with the doll hanging,” Phallon said.
First shocked, then saddened, the identical twins said they realized diversity in their school-assigned books was lacking.
“When you see a character or read about a character that looks like you, or acts like you, or has the same background as you, you just get confident,” Kyra said.
The book was removed from their reading list after they made noise about it this summer.” –Cited from CBS Chicago.
So what exactly happened?
14 year old twins of Chicago’s suburb Bolingbrook discovered racist books assigned on their school summer reading list. IL State Representative La Shawn K. Ford is now introducing a bill named after the twins, called The Pierce Twins Bill” into legislation which will mandate that schools throughout the state of Illinois will include the history of all backgrounds (i.e. African Americans, women, Native Americans, LatinX, Asian etc.) into the curriculum for K-12. This mandate will include any assignments throughout the traditional school year and summer reading lists. This bill will ensure:
- Children and teens of all backgrounds are exposed to a variety of experiences and cultures through reading
- Additional exposure to help in efforts to teach kids to be more tolerant, inclusive, accepting and appreciative of others
This is an urgent initiative led by the 14 year old twins Phallon and Kyra Pierce, who experienced the harsh reality of systemic racism through the reading materials assigned over this past summer at Saint Dominic. The book ‘And Then There Were None’, formerly titled ‘Ten Little N*ggers’ with nursery rhymes to accompany the content by author Agatha Christie, was assigned to the Pierce twins and their classmates. The Pierce twins were harassed and bullied for expressing that this book, along with others such as To Kill A Mockingbird, be removed from the reading list.
Their pain and anger fell on deaf ears at Saint Dominic, so they decided to direct their hurt to bring about a change. As we continue the work to end miseducation and systemic racism in our schools, requiring diverse reading materials that provide a sense of self value and worth to our children of all backgrounds is imperative. Building healthy race relations among all children is urgent. The Pierce Twins Bill assures Illinois schools must mandate diverse reading materials while removing derogatory reading assignments towards children of color and/or reading materials that use language that feeds into racism and hate. We believe this legislation will assist in helping with race relations among K-12 and build healthy self esteem in all of our children.
The twins also lead a judiciary committee weekly which is composed of students, parents, community leaders, and growing to discuss the impact and need of the legislation and to hear from others who have experienced similar situations within the school system. While the Pierce twins await for legislation to be passed to end hate in the reading materials assigned throughout the state of Illinois, they have started their own non-profit organization called Positive Change to receive books via donations and provide healthy reading materials to their peers.