With racial injustices frequently happening throughout the nation, discussions of racism and equality have also become more frequent in minorities’ homes.
Joa Macnalie, who is blessed with the gift of writing, allows these conversations to flow a little more easily. Keeping journals as a child, developed into a need to write and inspire others through her work. In doing so, she wrote the books Hero in the Helmet and B is for Brotherhood based on Colin Kaepernick’s fight for justice.
“Seeing him working hard and using his platform to speak up for justice and for what’s right for humanity was really moving. I just felt like, we should be talking about his heroism and we should be highlighting it for people to see especially children,” said Joa when explaining what inspired her to write the book Hero in the Helmet.
Often times we celebrate our heroes once they die, but Joa felt it in heart to acknowledge the sacrifices Kaepernick made in order for us to achieve social injustices. For a book with such a moving story, the cover art exemplifies political figures who’ve fought a similar fight that Kaepernick is battling today.
“My whole concept for that was to depict that heroes don’t die, they transmigrate. So Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, are in the background of the book. For example, they might not be there in their physical form, but their energy transfers into Colin Kaepernick.”
Including former political figures who also fought for racial justice in this children’s book makes for a great history lesson, in which Joa expressed this was one of her goals. Not only did Joa stop at Hero in the Helmet, but she went on to create the book B is for Brotherhood. Joa explains this book to be the sequel.
“Hero in the Helmet tells the forefront of the story where B is for Brotherhood tells the back end of the story. So what happens after he kneels and it includes the other players that stood in solidarity of Colin Kaepernick.” Kaepernick was faced with a lot of backlash after expressing his opinions on racial injustices. Joa tells this story in a manner easy for children to understand and for adults to explain to their children.
Kaepernick’s story is moving and relatable for Joa who has one brother and four nephews. She shares that she realized herself becoming more concerned with gun violence towards black men in America, to the point where she constantly discusses how they should portray themselves and interact with the police.
“A lot of people tell me they like my book due to the fact that it’s a way to have these difficult discussions in way they weren’t able to have it before because they didn’t know how to bring it up.”
With continuous support from the community, Joa dedicates herself to continue spreading awareness about racial injustices and police brutality. “Representation really matters so I was focused on being a black author and being purposeful about representation.” In the midst of releasing a third book by the summer, Joa reminds us that she is just getting started and more dope books for the culture are coming!
Her books can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes, and Nobles, and on her website www.joamacnalie.com.
– Photos by Armstrong Olivier