Turning the Page Toward Inclusive Representation and Understanding - Natalie’s #JeanJourney
At Democracy, we love to follow the Jean Journeys of trailblazing women making a difference in the world. We are honored to amplify the voices of change-makers like Natalie McDonald-Perkins, a Black children’s book author, poet and educator. Here’s what she had to say when we asked her to share some reflections for the Democracy Blog:
“When I became an educator almost 20 years ago, I felt a sense of responsibility for every child with whom I connected. This feeling quadrupled the second my daughter was born in 2017. That day in February, my husband and I started to live with even more intention.
It mattered what food we fed our daughter, her safety in our neighborhood, the school district we lived in, the people we associated with, the church we attended, the very books we read to her, and the lists go on.
I particularly remember finding it challenging to find books that would normalize Blackness, give her a sense of self-affirmation and racial pride, and allow her to have a deeper comprehension of the characters as a direct reflection of her own identity.
As a teacher, I witness children from various ethnic, socioeconomic, and linguistic backgrounds experience exclusion. While being intentional, sensitive, and empathetic, I sought to create a book that celebrated children’s differences while optimizing their strengths.
I specifically saw a need for a children’s book that empowered and amplified the voices of African Americans, specifically girls. So, in 2019, I began my journey to become a children’s book author. And in 2020, with great honor, I released my debut book, “Best in Me.”
Although my targeted audience is children, this book is for everyone. As one elementary school teacher noted, “This book reignites the senses through the use of poetry. Her intentional and perfectly crafted words take every adult on a nostalgic journey, forcing one to reexamine childhood wounds, at the hands of unkind people... Dare to look within yourself and discover and/or rediscover the best in YOU!”
I challenge you to discover and/or rediscover the best in you, intentionally. What messages do you consciously or subconsciously stand by as you navigate the world as both a citizen and a consumer? I even challenge myself as I move throughout the world with great intention. I plan to patronize Black-owned businesses and other businesses and corporations that stand against racism and the injustice of Black people.
I want to thank Democracy for its commitment to showcasing African American women like myself and the causes that are important to us. I am here to lead, protect, nurture, and educate the next generation. Because of Democracy’s commitment, I am able to maintain intentionality even in the very clothes that I wear!”
We are grateful for the chance to help Natalie look good and feel good in Democracy Clothing, as she shows up powerfully as a mother, educator and author. We invite you to celebrate Natalie’s recent achievement, purchase your own copy of her book <click here to purchase on Amazon> to enjoy with a child in your life, and help us turn a page together towards inclusivity and understanding.