Ama Karikari Yawson is in the business of diversity training and publishing books aimed at children of color. After George Floyd was killed, the Freeport resident wanted to help in a way that she felt she was able — by writing a book to aid families in their discussions about racism.
“The Talk: A Black Family’s Conversation about Racism and Police Brutality” features a fictional mom and dad explaining to their two children the Black Lives Matter movement and what is going on in the country right now. Yawson envisions parents reading the book, which is written in verse, with their children to help make the topics more approachable during an era when COVID-19, police brutality and racism are combining to create distress.
“I’m not a health care hero,” says Yawson, 40, who has two sons, Jojo, 10, and Miles, 7. “What is it I should be doing to alleviate the stress we’re all under? I knew parents were really struggling with how to talk to their children about it. We really have to figure out how we cope at this time, with what is going on.”
Because the book launched June 25, the illustrations are topical and include people wearing masks, the children attending school online, and people marching at Black Lives Matter protests. Yawson says she tried to make the book uplifting, teaching children how beautiful they are while facing the reality that some people may have preconceived stereotypes of them. “It doesn’t vilify the police,” Yawson says. “It says in plain English that there are people with these thoughts in every profession.”
While the book is geared toward Black families, other families may find it valuable as well, Yawson says. “This book gives white families an opportunity to peek into a Black family’s life and have these conversations,” she says. She plans a follow-up book that features multiple families of different races, she says.
Yawson says she started writing books with diversity themes after a racist incident she experienced with her son when he was 3, at which time she was a corporate lawyer. "I felt so horrified by the incident," she says, explaining that a barber had used a racial slur when referring to her child. She had always thought about writing a book, and the experience spurred her to pen "Sunne's Gift" in 2014 encouraging people of different races to work together for the benefit of the world.
"The best way to teach is through a story," she says. "When I published my first book and started doing public speaking surrounding issues of diversity, I found it so fulfilling and nourishing for my spirit." So she left her law job and started her publishing company, called Milestales, which has launched more than a dozen books by different authors and has, since 2016, co-sponsored an annual Long Island Multicultural Children's Book Fair in Freeport.
“My goal as a publisher is to make sure I have stories and images that reflect that all people are valuable,” Yawson says. “The Talk” is available on Amazon.com for $15.95. Yawson has also made it available for free e-Book download through the end of July.