Black men are often criminalized, dehumanized and desensitized, before anyone ever believes their true innocence of a crime they did not commit. In the case of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin, these biases became true before the crossover from childhood to manhood. Author Valeria Reynolds teamed up with illustrator Chris Turner to gift a counter-narrative of #BlackBoyJoy to public schools.
Reynolds uses the killing of Terence Crutcher by the gun of Officer Betty Shelby to highlight the societal demand for their #BlackBoyJoy gift of prose. The description for the Kickstarter reads:
“During one of the too-many-to-count senseless killings of a Black man, Officer Betty Shelby said that she was overcome by fear in her justification for the need to shoot and kill Terrance Crutcher as he simply waved down help for his stalled vehicle. My visceral reaction to this was an appropriate mixture of anger and sadness. I mean, do you know how many over six feet, hefty Black men and boys that we know who are some of the world’s most lovable and playful people you will ever meet? Too many to count. But Betty Shelby doesn’t. We believe that this “big bad dude” scared her because her understanding of Black men has been shaped by distorted images, stories, and depictions of Black men that are conjured by the media. So not to beat a dead horse, but these media misrepresentations have real and tragic consequences.”
Chicago native Reynolds launched a Kickstarter campaign, The Joys of Being a Little Black Boy. At the time of the author’s spot on Huffington Post Black Voices Tuesday (June 20), the campaign manage to garner “70 percent of its goal.” Today, the crowdsourced funding account is merely eight percent short of its $7,500, clocking in at little over $6,900.
The publication will feature the likes of historic black men such as former President Barack Obama, abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson.
In addition to raising funds for the printing and distributing the melanin-infused children’s book, the monetary goal will contribute to donating copies to public schools across the country. By August, Reynolds aims to be selling the books in brick-and-mortar stores, as well as other digital retailers.