I wanted to start this post with another huge THANK YOU to everyone who has already purchased their copy of It’s Brave to Cry and to those who have supported me from the very beginning! These last few days have felt like a whirlwind and reading everyone’s comments, DM’s, emails and reposts about my story has been so amazing. Let’s keep it going!
Since the launch, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how I first started writing this story and how it came to be. Like many others, I have found myself feeling very overwhelmed trying to cope with the whirlwind year that was 2020. From the quarantine regulations, to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the presidential election, to the COVID19 death count – 2020 has left myself and others feeling overly stressed and anxious without appropriate coping mechanisms.
I continued reflecting about how this year I was challenged to face all of my emotions head on, (not much else to do when you are trapped inside), and how some of these feelings were quite hard to process. But once I did, this huge sense of relief overcame me- and I wanted to encourage everyone around me, but especially today’s youth, that letting your feelings out is a very brave thing to do. More importantly, understanding why you feel the way you feel is a very brave accomplishment. For me, taking a moment to just cry has always been a time of release and cogitation for me. And thus, It’s Brave to Cry was born.
I chose Clay as the name for the main character in my book because, like the clay from the earth or the clay that children play with, I wanted him to come across very malleable. Clay may have had a negative connotation at first of crying and showing your tears, but as the story continues the readers begin to see Clay’s perspective change about what it means to express your emotions. Once he and his dad adventure off to find the bravest people he can think of to ask if they ever cry, Clay starts to realize that part of what makes these people so brave is that they aren’t afraid to cry if they need to. When reading my story, notice how Clay is a character who represents the importance of having a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed one.
Also, when I started writing I had a very long list of brave people I wanted clay to meet. From racecar drivers, to stuntmen, to astronauts or animal tamers! Eventually, I narrowed down my list- but knew that I wanted these brave people to also look like Clay- so I started reaching out to African-American men and women in these brave occupations, to better understand what may make them cry. I wanted to put myself in the shoes of my protagonist. I posted a few polls on social media and DM’ed some individuals as well (there is literally a Facebook Group out there for EVERYTHING). Although I certainly understand the importance of expressing your feelings when you feel them- I wanted to hear from these people specifically. Some of the responses blew me away- and reading through people’s perspectives on why they should or should not cry was quite eye-opening. However the most meaningful responses I received were from educators- the individuals who are working with youth everyday and can see firsthand how important social-emotional development is when it comes to expressing and understanding our own feelings (and those of others too!)
“An educator’s heart cries when their students cry” was one of the most moving responses I received from an African-American teacher I reached out to and the line was even incorporated in my story. There were some other tidbits in my story from the very brave firefighters, scuba divers, high-rise window-washers, and teachers that I reached out to. A consistent theme throughout these conversations was that these individuals were excited to hear about this project I was working on and that this was a story that needed to be told- especially for our Black and African-American boys. There is quite a bit of research on the emotional stoicism of Black men as well as the mental health disparities- luckily these issues can be addressed during childhood.
This was just the beginning of the writing process and self-publishing process! There was a lot more that was involved and I look forward to sharing more of that with you all in future posts! And now that my book is live, this is the beginning of an entire new operation and I am learning everyday- I invite you to continue following along with this journey. And although this is my first children’s book, I am confident I can and will create very meaningful stories for children of color. After this crazy year especially, I think it is more important now than ever to encourage young black children to understand and release their emotions and that it is brave to do so. Although there are many children’s books that discuss the importance of identifying and expressing these feelings- so few of these books are targeted towards Black children. And don’t get me wrong, expressing yourself is not always easy- but that’s where the bravery comes in and practice helps too! So if you are also ready for the stigma to change, let’s do this together and order your copy of my first book “It’s Brave to Cry” today!
“And lastly, when reading this story keep in mind that bravery always starts with being unapologetically and authentically YOU!” – Rebecca Robinson, Authors Note of It’s Brave to Cry