In this post-modern era of literature, it is important to utilize and stretch every resource and opportunity as far as one can to assist in the evolution and inclusivity of the market. As a Black femme writer, it is personally an honor, privilege and duty to ensure that my voice is lent to the growth of titles that focus on the Black girl’s lens and experience.
When I was approached to write the middle-grade anthology, She Raised Her Voice!: 50 Black Women Who Sang Their Way Into Music History, I happily signed as the author with the understanding that I was given the chance to solidify the continuation of the legacy of 50 Black women vocalists and share the history of their amazing lives with a new generation of music lovers, potential music historians and any interested party who wanted to learn more about the contributions of Black women to Western music.
I was also thrilled to receive the opportunity to write Astrology For Black Girls soon after I was commissioned to write She Raised Her Voice! The books will help in expanding the scope of interests in young Black girls, and a huge motivation for me was that I wanted to write the books I would have read when I was a girl if they had existed.
Writing through and for the Black girl’s lens is vital work not only for Black girls and their parents but for the world at large who will benefit greatly from learning about the voices and perspectives that have been historically underserved in the literary world. Every reader, no matter what gender identity, background and creed will have the chance to explore the lives and vision of human beings who have rich talent, diverse interests and lived unique lives while navigating oppression and discrimination.
The beauty that arises from the daily struggles of Black girls who are forced to primarily learn about history in patriarchal contexts and mysticism through white western archetypes comes through education and inclusion. Black girls must know that they don’t have to abandon their religion and beliefs to study the stars, and they deserve the opportunity to see women who look like them change the course of music history.
Including Black girls in as many conversations and writing to and for them gives me great joy, and I hope and dream that we as a literary culture can continue to mine and cultivate the depth and complexity of the Black girl’s lens simply because it is time to recognize that this demographic has an incredible amount of potential to change the face of the children’s book market which is now producing literature for a growing culture of diverse children.
It has been a pleasure to be a source of knowledge and a participant creating a forward-thinking collection of kid lit and I believe that there is so much more work to do, so many more Black women to commission, so many more Black girls and diverse readers to reach along with encouraging the white literary world to read and enjoy our books. Writing for Black girls is not meant to divide and separate, it is a chance to draw in and become equal additions to titles from the past, present and future.
I am alive to serve whoever I can, and I have always been open to connecting with my inner child and finding a voice that connects with Black girls straight from my heart.
She Raised Her Voice!: 50 Black Women Who Sang Their Way Into Music History is due out on December 28, 2021. Astrology for Black Girls is due out in summer 2022. Both titles are published by Running Press Kids.