The first time Freeporter Ama Karikari-Yawson spoke with her children about police brutality and systematic racism was after the death of Eric Garner in 2014.
Although her oldest son, Jojo, was only about four-years-old at the time, Karikari-Yawson found that he was picking up on the tension anxiety that gripped the community at the time, so she tried her best to explain things to him and be as honest as possible.
As the Black Lives Matter movement continues in the U.S., Karikari-Yawson, 40, decided to use her experience as an author and parent to help other families discuss the current state of race relations and the importance of the movement by publishing a children’s book on the matter, “The Talk: A Black Families Conversation about Racism and Police Brutality.”
“This is a book for families to read together and engage with it,” Karikari-Yawson said. “It’s a tool for families of all races to learn from.”
Karikari-Yawson said the book is very much a product of its time, as it starts out with children at home during the Covid-19 pandemic watching the video of George Floyd’s death online.
The book goes on to depict the kids and their parents having a frank talk about systematic racism and the push to end police brutality.
But despite the nature of the family’s conversation, the book ends on a positive message that encourages kids to strive for excellence and help the nation overcome its racist history.
“This book is a ‘must read’ and is suitable for students in the elementary and middle school grades,” said Aletta Seales, a member of the New York Black Librarians Caucus. “[It] is a story in poetry form, which can serve as a resource to parents, educators, librarians and community members to discuss police brutality, race and racial injustices with children.”
“‘The Talk’ is a book of empowerment that can be useful for advocates, allies or activities who wish to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem,” added Sheliah Bobo, a member of the Black Educators of New York.
Karikari-Yawson said that among the major lessons in the book is that parents of any race need not shelter their kids from the fact that racism and prejudice exists. From her own experience at seeing her two sons embrace the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the scores of kids and young adults leading the calls for change in recent protests, Karikari-Yawson believes that kids are mature enough to handle this topic.
She added that to bring about such a change means including everyone into the conversation, and she hopes families of all races would read her book to learn more.
Karikari-Yawson said she might go on to write similar books from the perspective of other families, including a white family.