book: no one ever askedHow do we fight racism in America? What does it take to eliminate hatred and fear?

One day Katie Ganshert, a white mother raising an adopted black daughter, watched a documentary that wouldn’t let her go.

This American Life aired an episode called “The Problem We All Live With.”

In 2013 two poor, predominantly black school districts in Missouri lost their accreditation. As a result, Missouri passed a law allowing students to transfer to other schools. The ensuing anger and resistance by white parents in an affluent district seemed reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s.

Already an award-winning novelist, Katie wrote a fictional account of the situation. She told the story from the perspective of three women: Anaya, a young black teacher recently hired by the white school district, Camille, a white mother who opposes the transfer law, and Jen, a white mother of a black girl adopted from an orphanage in Liberia.

Katie invites us to get inside the heads and hearts of her characters, helping us to learn the hurts and fears that fuel their reactions. Her well-written story moved me. I couldn’t put it down.

But Katie’s novel is more than entertainment. It is a cry to do something about the injustice of racism. She says in her author’s note, “And story is a powerful medium. It speaks to hearts in ways facts and articles cannot…. We get to put on someone else’s skin and walk a mile in their shoes, which makes it the best possible breeding ground for empathy.”

How true.

In the beginning, Katie mentions how there is more school segregation now than in 1968. However, this disturbing fact did not penetrate my heart as deeply as the vivid stories of how this affects each parent, child and teacher.

Katie also lists excellent resources to inform the reader about racism. She hopes that empathy will grow, conversations will start, and that love and understanding will eat away at the elephant of racism.

No One Ever Asked will stir your heart. Let’s carry on the narrative. We need more novels like Katie’s.


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