It is really frustrating that still, in 2017, we are having to advocate for stories about girls of color to be featured in young adult literature. Progress has been made, but there is still so much to do. As a writer, my hope is to contribute stories that feature a range of young black girls as the protagonist. I want to write about the girls I grew up with, the girls I’ve taught in classrooms across the nation. I want to show our varied experiences—not just heartache and pain, but the beauty, brilliance and joy that I’ve witnessed as well. As an activist, I am involved in groups like We Need Diverse Books and other initiatives that advocate for the publishing, access, and use of diverse books. Something I try to do as a writer in the community is to mentor aspiring women authors of color. That mentorship has taken many forms from critiquing manuscripts, to giving advice on how to navigate the publishing industry.
My murals at St. Rose of Lima Church tell the story of Andre Cailloux and Father Maistre. Andre Cailloux and Father Maistre’s lives are intimately wrapped into the history of the city. They were trailblazers in the ongoing fight for justice and equality in New Orleans. Cailloux fought valiantly to lift the people of New Orleans out of slavery through his role as an officer in the union army. Father Maistre was the only catholic priest in Louisiana to vocally advocate for emancipation during the Civil War. While his past is checkered with accusations of corruption, during his time in New Orleans he worked for equality and for justice, even when that put him at odds of the Church, and the white members of his congregation.