Asadah Kirkland’s book, Beating Black Kids, speaks to shifting the way Black parents discipline their children. She understands the power of the word and empowers it more with the creation of her book fairs. We spoke to Kirkland during her most recent Soulful Chicago Black History Book Fair and she provided insight as to who she is and why it is important for Black people to be more literate.
Talk about the importance of this book fair.
The Soulful Chicago Black History Book Fair was an opportunity to pay homage to Black writers of the past by creating a stage for Black writers of the present. Carrying that torch was history making in and of itself.
This isn’t just about books, you have incorporated music and screenings, why is that important?
In the Black community, you find the written word manifested in many ways. It doesn’t stop at books. Having composers and storytellers as part of SCBF’s line up has been a part of our delivery from the onset. Therefore we wanted to ensure visitors to the book fair could experience a little bit of all of our literary art forms.
When did you come up with the idea for the book fair?
The idea of the Black History book fair started with our collaboration with Wentworth Elementary School. When plans to have the event at their school fell through, the Creator must have really wanted the event to happen, because a different organization was sent to me asking if I would help put on a book fair for Black History Month. Thank goodness we did it because there weren’t many events happening for Black History Month here in Chicago, and definitely no other events designed to celebrate our presence in the literary arts.
Why would you say it is important for Black people to become more literate?
In order for any idea or thought to be implemented, one has to be able to read. Our reading levels on a whole are too low and our vocabularies are too short. We must grasp and get a handle on words so that we can properly convey our ideas to others and receive communication with no confusion.
Who are some of your favorite writers and why?
I love L. Ron Hubbard as an author because he deals with subject matter I can immediately apply, in addition to tapping into topics no other author knows how to.
What is next? What can we expect from the next book fair?
Right now it’s all about preparing for the big event in July. In addition to that, though, we’ll be releasing an opportunity for authors to obtain membership with the Soulful Chicago, making product placement and marketing easier for individual writers. We’ve also been working with Kwame Nkrumah Academy with plans to help make them a literary academy and have children in the school create published works
If you could recommend one book for people to read, what would it be?
I would recommend folks read my book Beating Black Kids because whether we have children or not, we carry a mindset of harming children, based on how we were treated when we were raised. These behaviors are debilitating us as a people.