Parent Writes Children’s Book to Engage Younger Generations in Conversations Regarding Racial Equity

The+front+cover+of+And+The+People+Carried+Signs+features+a+pre-teen+boy+protesting+in+a+Black+Lives+Matter+protest+while+he+gets+in+involved+in+conversations+regarding+race+through+his+eyes.+The+childrens+book+was+written+by+Dr.+LaTisha+Smith%2C+MHS+parent%2C+who+decided+to+write+this+after+getting+inspired+from+being+an+educator+for+more+than+twenty+years+and+witnessing+protests.+

Moshin Khan

The front cover of “And The People Carried Signs” features a pre-teen boy protesting in a Black Lives Matter protest while he gets in involved in conversations regarding race through his eyes. The children’s book was written by Dr. LaTisha Smith, MHS parent, who decided to write this after getting inspired from being an educator for more than twenty years and witnessing protests.

By Aarushi Bute, Marquette High School

Confused, a little boy with eyes wide embraced his father at a protest.

Dr. LaTisha Smith, Rockwood Summit parent, watched this scene unfold from her television with a thousand questions racing through her head.

“Just the look in the boy’s eyes,” Dr. Smith said. “He knew he was there. He knew he was in this place and surrounded by these people, but it made me wonder, ‘What does he know? How is he absorbing this? What is it doing to him mentally?’”

Inspired by these questions, Dr. Smith decided to write a children’s book called, “And the People Carried Signs” to engage the younger generations in conversations regarding race, justice and equity. 

“I am a firm believer that it is the next generation that is going to be the ones that find the solutions to the issues caused by generations prior,” Dr. Smith said. “So this book was just a way that came to my mind about how adults can have this discussion with the youngest of children, not just teenagers.” 

The story follows a boy who tries to understand the world of inequality from the influence of his uncle by protesting, collaborating and listening to stories of those who were lost too quickly, Dr. Smith said. 

It’s about how these signs are their voice and message to the world. The signs are what they are advocating for. We want justice; we want equality.”

— Dr. LaTisha Smith

“It’s about how these signs are their voice and message to the world,” Dr. Smith said. “The signs are what they are advocating for. We want justice; we want equality.”

As a parent and an educator for 23 years, Dr. Smith said she has had her fair share of explaining complex topics in a simple manner. One of her methods is using vivid pictures to help images stand out and to kindle feelings. 

“Pictures tell stories that words can’t necessarily express,” Dr. Smith said. “So I wanted the pictures to be almost lifelike. I wanted people to have to grapple with the visuals they saw and ignite feelings of change.”

With the increase in book challenges within RSD, Dr. Smith said she would not be surprised if her book gets banned as it addresses the topic of race. 

“When you’re banning books, you are banning someone’s voice,” Dr. Smith said. “I feel like this book may not get the chance it needs and deserves because people are so fearful of what the consequences might be.” 

“And the People Carried Signs” is published locally and mainly sold through Amazon. 

For Raymond Holmes, librarian, books are one of the best vehicles to convey new ideas. 

It’s a powerhouse for change. In my experience as a teacher and as a reader, books play such a formative role in helping people figure out what the world is like around them and how they fit into it. ”

— Raymond Holmes

“It’s a powerhouse for change,” Holmes said. “In my experience as a teacher and as a reader, books play such a formative role in helping people figure out what the world is like around them and how they fit into it.”

Holmes said books and visuals have always been one of the best ways to share information and stories between people because the writers either have primary experience with the topic or have done in-depth research. 

“With visuals, I see these kinds of books as a great resource for students to engage with the world around them and make more sense of it,” Holmes said. 

Kathryn Schuermann, junior, is an avid reader after getting addicted to books recently. 

Schuermann said books, especially ones with visuals, like Dr. Smith’s, are the best way to convey a complicated topic to younger kids. 

“Books can put anything in words, even the hardest of topics,” Schuermann said. 

Schuermann said she thinks books regarding race tend to be banned which is a form of censorship. 

“If a book is controversial or too mature, I think that’s just more of a reason to keep it on the shelf,” Schuermann said. “There’s no way to dance around a topic, especially one as powerful as racial inequality.”

This story was originally published on Marquette Messenger on May 22, 2022.