If you follow Faith on Instagram you know that many people really loved a recent post featuring a Summer Rules checklist for kids. We created a colorful version of this checklist in case you want to use it this summer. Enjoy!
During my freshman year at Spelman College, I was introduced to the term “African Diaspora” while taking the core requirement course African Diaspora and the World. The term refers to the dispersal of African people to the Americas (primarily via the transatlantic slave trade) and to other areas around the globe.
My first opportunity to experience the diaspora outside of the United States was when I participated in a Spelman study abroad program in Oaxaca, México the summer after my sophomore year. When I learned during the program’s info session that we would travel to La Costa Chica to stay overnight in an Afro-Mexican village, I remember thinking, I had no idea there are Black Mexicans! Well, Black Mexicans do exist, and spending time in La Costa Chica is an experience I’ll never forget.
When I returned home from México, I considered other countries in the Americas where I could travel and meet other African descendants. After graduating from Spelman, I traveled to Cuba and began to notice that what the majority of African descendants in the Americas have in common is a lack of opportunity. It’s because of this knowledge and experience that I’ve made it a priority to translate “I Know I Can!” into languages spoken by kids of the African Diaspora. I started with Spanish (“¡Yo se que Puedo!”) and Brazilian Portuguese (“Sei que vou conseguir!”), and will soon add French and Haitian Creole. I’m committed to disseminating Faith’s story because in many nations Black children call home, positive representation is minimal if not absent.
About a year ago, my wanderlust and artistic activism were fortuitously intertwined when I stumbled upon the Instagram account of AfroLatino Travel, a travel and tour agency that organizes trips to African Diaspora communities in Latin America. I’ve always wanted to explore Panamá, so I was excited to learn that AfroLatino Travel hosts trips to the Central American isthmus. If that weren’t enough, I also discovered that AfroLatino Travel leads a drive to collect Black toys and books that they distribute to children in the countries on their itinerary. Frankly, AfroLatino Travel was an answered prayer: at an event in Cuba, they featured the Spanish version of my book, “¡Yo se que Puedo!,” and when I scheduled my trip to Panamá, our guide, AfroLatino Co-Founder Javier Wallace, organized a reading for me in Panamá City. I actually ended up having two readings! The first was impromptu in Portobelo, where we visited el Grupo de Congo Mama Ari. I’m truly grateful for both experiences and convinced there may be nothing more uplifting than hearing children shout, “¡Yo sé que puedo!” (“I Know I Can!”), or to hear that “‘I Know I Can!’ makes you believe in yourself” as one little girl recently told me at a reading in Boston. Her statement reinforced my commitment to translating my book so that Faith’s empowering message can inspire all little girls and boys of the African Diaspora.
Want to join me on this mission? You can do so by clicking here to donate to the “I Know I Can!” Translation Fund. And check out more of my Panamá pictures below!
This past Saturday I celebrated my birthday at The Colored Girls Museum in Philadelphia, PA, "a memoir museum, which honors the stories, experiences, and history of Colored Girls." I first visited the private-home-turned-museum last year. It was such an awesome, affirming, and restorative experience, that I knew I had to bring people back with me! My family and friends travelled from DC, Massachusetts, and New Jersey to attend, and everyone was happy they did!
We were treated to a Salon Styled-Guided tour of the current installation, Urgent Care, by the awesome Executive Director and Founder Vashti DuBois. "Urgent Care is A Public Art Performance ----which cast the colored girl simultaneously as first responder and patient."
One of the many poignant things Vashti said during the tour was that everyone tells the Colored Girl to "stay woke", but she believes Colored Girls need to go to sleep and rest up for battle/life. It's so fitting that this week The Colored Girls Museum's Facebook page posted an article about "Lullaby," a beautiful song by the artist TASHA, that both captures Vashti's sentiments, and that could be a perfect soundtrack for Urgent Care. Take a listen, then get yourself to the museum for some healing and love. You may even spot a copy of I Know I Can! somewhere in the museum! ~ Veronica N. Chapman
The children’s book I Know I Can! is about a little girl named Faith who dreams big and has the courage to take action!
Download the I Know I Can! "Dream Big" worksheet so your kids can write down or draw some of the dreams they plan to accomplish! This is a great activity that helps kids explore their imagination and consider life's possibilities!
I often receive e-mails and social media messages from adults who take the time to let me know how I Know I Can! has positively impacted the kids in their lives. It is always such a wonderful feeling.
Many have also contacted me to request products featuring Faith, the main character in I Know I Can! While doll requests may take a little while longer, I have partnered with Spreadshirt to offer a few products which I believe encompass the messages and intention of I Know I Can! Take a look around the I Know I Can! "store," and you may find something that can inspire the little ones in your life, and maybe you too!
The children’s book I Know I Can! is about a little girl named Faith who dreams big and has the courage to take action!
The words included in the I Know I Can! word search below are just a few of the adjectives that can be used to describe Faith.
Click the button below to download this free word search for your kids so they can learn some positive adjectives, and then reflect on how these words may also apply to them!
As I continue to work hard to spread the messages of I Know I Can!, I am always grateful for the opportunity to be interviewed by people with platforms that are meant to inspire and empower.
Click on the logos below to read or listen to my interviews with various individuals and organizations.
“In the whole world you know / There’s a billion boys and girls / Who are young, gifted and black, / And that's a fact!”
When I was a child, my mom would often play Nina Simone’s music around the house. Although I was young and somewhat ignorant of the world’s complexities, I could feel the power, weariness, anger, and love in Ms. Simone’s music.
One song my mom played on repeat was “To Be Young, Gifted & Black.” Ms. Simone co-wrote this gem with poet Weldon Irvine to honor her friend, renowned playwright Lorraine Hansberry, and to "make Black children all over the world feel good about themselves forever."
I can honestly say that this song helped prepare me for this world, a world that commodifies Black bodies and denies our contributions at the same time that it devalues our lives. It is for this reason that Ms. Simone and her message are featured in my book I Know I Can!
I believe that in order to effectively walk and act in our life’s purpose, despite the oppressive and destructive forces that plague us, we must first love ourselves. I see a lot of viral challenges on social media. Some require you to complete a number of sit-ups or pour a bucket of ice water on your head for a cause. The most recent one requires that you demonstrate your love for your spouse. Well, I would like to add a new challenge to the mix. I challenge every adult with Black children in their lives to first teach those children the lyrics to Nina Simone’s “To Be Young Gifted & Black.” Then, upload a video of them singing any part of this empowering song along with Nina Simone.
When you upload your video, be sure to tag at least two friends so they can join the challenge! Together, we can bring joy to the world and to the Black community, which continues to be bombarded online with images and videos of violent actions and intentions against Black bodies. Let’s advance a different narrative. One that is positive, uplifting, and potentially transformative. Post your video on any social media platform you wish. When you post, please use the hashtag #iknowicanYGB so we can find you!
Links to the lyrics, a live recording, and a studio version of “To Be Young, Gifted & Black” are below.
Growing up Black in America is a uniquely challenging experience, and growing up Black and female is even more of a challenge. To really thrive in society we have to learn very early on how to be the keepers of our joy, name, value, and of our life’s possibilities.
Many people will never forget the day Don Imus used his radio platform to call a group of young black female college students “nappy headed hoes,” and often Black girls face expulsion from school for donning their natural hair. And, most unfortunately, many Black women can relate to how deflating it feels to have their intelligence questioned in the workplace or in a school setting because of both their gender and racial identities. Yet, these are just a few of the difficult realities our young Black girls must be prepared to tackle.
I have made it my mission to help young women combat this nonsense by designing and implementing a self-esteem building workshop for teenage girls called “Like a Fortified City.” The name of the workshop is inspired by a city in France where in the 3rd century A.D the Roman occupants erected walls to protect the city from attacks. I let teenage girls know that their self-esteem must be so strong that it functions like a fortified city so they can brave the elements of a society that can make them question their self-worth and capabilities.
My job as facilitator is to provide a space where teens can speak openly and honestly about their feelings and experiences, and to create a dynamic educational environment that provides them with the knowledge and foresight to mitigate the effects of negative messaging on their psyches. During the workshops we first learn the story of Saartjie Baartman, a Black woman who was exhibited as a freak show in 19th-century Europe. We immediately follow this by listening to explicit versions of popular songs to examine how misogynistic messages, often promoted by their favorite artists, impact their lives.
Some argue that messages in music and pop culture in general have no real influence on our young people. However, if that were true then popular figures would never land huge endorsement deals, teenage girls would not constitute the demographic of women investing in fake behinds, and I would not have teenage girls in my workshops who believe that expensive designer digs determine their value.
While the workshops are a great benefit to teenagers, I still believe we must work harder to empower our girls at an even earlier age. In an effort to do just that, I recently launched campaign to help complete a children’s book I wrote called I Know I Can! It’s the story of a little girl name Faith with big dreams! The goal of the book is to empower little girls to think and dream big, and to have the courage to take action.
If you would like to take action and help build the self-esteem of little girls in your life, here are a few things you can do:
1. Verbally acknowledge, validate, and help them hone their strengths.
Does the little girl in your life like to put puzzles together and solve problems? If so, keep supporting that interest! You never know—you could be raising an engineer!
2. Encourage them to challenge themselves. Provide guidance. Do whatever must be done, but don’t let them give up!
Once a person (even a little person) overcomes one challenge, when presented with another they will have the confidence to confront it. This practice will serve them in every aspect of their life.
3. Tell them they are wonderful, intelligent, fabulous, brilliant, loving, caring, gorgeous, kind, sweet, generous . . .
I’m the type of person who is quick to compliment someone if there is something that stands out about them. They could give off great energy, be a great leader, have awesome shoes, hair, jewelry, makeup, or just an awesome smile. Whatever my compliment may be, it’s always genuine, well-received, and a day-maker. I’m sure there are many adjectives you could use to compliment your little one. Compliment her today! She will love you (and herself) all the more.
4. Support I Know I Can!
It's never too early to start inspiring our girls to dream big, and have the courage to take action. This book is meant to be read to little girls until they can read it and understand it for themselves!
I know that if we begin or continue to do all these things and more, the little girls in your life will certainly have self-esteem that extends from their hair follicles to their toenails, with some leftover love to share!
Click here to purchase I Know I Can!
Two of the most powerful tools a person can be equipped with are high self esteem and a strong sense of self.
Because we are living in an era where we have access to all types of information and images, some positive, and quite unfortunately, a lot that are negative, it's so important for us to speak life into our young people, help them define who they are, and declare who they want to be in this world.
The most powerful and affirming gift I have ever received was an acrostic poem written by my big sister Jashonai. An acrostic poem is one in which the first, last, or other letters in a line spell out a particular word or phrase.
My sister used the letters in my first name to create the poem, and because she knows me so well, with each letter of my name she was able to write a phrase that affirms who I am and what I value. Anytime I may feel a little lost, or like I need some direction, this poem helps to get me back on track!
I suggest that we do the same for the young people in our lives. We can either help them create their own acrostic poems, or we can take the time to consider all the things that make them who they are and write poems to help empower and affirm them. If you need some ideas on how to get started click on the following links: Poetry4Kids - readwritethink - Scholastic
Here is the text from the poem my sister wrote for me. I have moved three times since she gave me the framed version; it always has a place in my home, and most importantly, in my heart.