KALAMAZOO, MI — As a Black mom, seeing the information protection of the taking pictures of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown felt private to Teresa Baker.
The mom of two daughters, she realized that whereas there was the Black Woman Magic motion, a niche stays for younger Black boys. Shortly after a grand jury declined fees in Brown’s case, Baker discovered she was pregnant with a child boy.
“I didn’t wish to need to cope with somebody treating my son like that and one thing like that taking place,” she stated. “I used to be actually emotional [during] these verdicts.”
The thought for her firm, Brown Boy Brown Woman, got here to her in a dream, Baker stated. In 2015, she manifested that dream and created the corporate, along with her kids as co-owners. It publishes and promotes storybooks and faculty provides created by and that includes folks of colour.
“I wish to begin normalizing kids of all ethnicities to have the ability to open up a ebook and see a personality who’s brown however they’ll nonetheless affiliate themselves due to the story,” she stated. “Proper now this appears to be like a phenomenon. You don’t have books which can be on the market which have characters of colour in them and which can be written by authors of colour.”
Brown Boy Brown Woman’s first enterprise was publishing kids’s ebook “Josie’s Bedazzled Sneakers,” written by Baker and her mom. The primary character, Josie, is shy and struggling to satisfy mates at a brand new college — a theme that each one kids can relate to no matter race, Baker stated.
The story is loosely based mostly on Baker’s oldest daughter, Aniya. The character’s bedazzled sneakers become a dialog piece and a chance to make new mates.
In actual life, Baker’s household moved from Southfield, close to Detroit, to Portage final 12 months. Her 8-year-old daughter informed her she was “the one brown” in her class. Baker stated she has struggled to search out actions within the Kalamazoo space which can be run by or in style with Black neighborhood members.
“That took a toll on her at first, not having anyone within the classroom that seemed like her,” Baker stated. “It’s a bit little bit of a tradition shock for me, as a result of I’m not capable of finding or search that stability.”
This college 12 months, Brown Boy Brown Woman started providing college provides like notebooks and coloring books in addition to attire. You will need to Baker that her kids have a say within the merchandise the corporate makes, and what they seem like.
“I imagine that quite a lot of occasions that households of colour, we don’t go away a legacy for our kids,” Baker stated. “That was one other factor that I needed to do with this enterprise after I created it for them in order that as we’re studying about enterprise collectively.”
Along with her oldest, Baker additionally enlists assist from daughter Lydia, 6, and son David, 5.
Final summer time, the household participated in Kalamazoo’s Black Wall Road Expo. The children mingled with different distributors and even introduced in gross sales, Baker stated. At residence, the youngsters assist fill orders and brainstorm new merchandise.
Brown Boy Brown Woman is launching its personal junior CEO convention this January. The digital convention will embrace shows on authorized and monetary recommendation reminiscent of mental property rights and making a enterprise construction. The convention will embrace workshops for fogeys, however Baker stresses that this will likely be a chance for youths ages 8-18 to make their pastime a enterprise.
“I at all times inform kids that you simply don’t have to attend till you’re an grownup to have your voice heard,” Baker stated. “You possibly can have it heard proper now and you can begin incomes cash proper now.”
Main by instance, Baker’s youngsters lately had a digital assembly with one other younger artist, a 12-year-old illustrator, who designed the shirts that launched in August, Baker stated. The corporate has plans to start out creating and promoting dolls to accompany the books it publishes, she stated.
One in every of Brown Boy Brown Woman’s preliminary targets was to encourage and empower kids of colour. It has been eight years since Trayvon Martin died and 6 years since Michael Brown died. The dialog round racial fairness and social justice has solely grown louder and extra distinguished in that point, with summer time 2020 marked by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
In some ways, Baker stated this challenge of inclusivity is for adults simply as a lot as kids.
“For these kids who perceive what’s occurring on this planet they nonetheless must know that they do matter,” Baker stated. “Their life issues, they’re gifted, they may very well be no matter they wish to be on this world. On the similar time, we push these optimistic photographs into mainstream, they need to get out into mainstream so that individuals can see that kids of colour should not a menace.”
Extra on MLive: