Children's book, 'Black or White, Which Does God Like?,' explores racism
Posted July 7, 2013
Danielle Hawkins has always been a writer. As a child, she penned songs or poems. As an adult and stay-at-home mom, she worked on essays, fiction and non-fiction.
It hasn't been a money maker for the Raleigh mom of four sons, ages 14 to 27. But it's been a long-time hobby and habit.
"It's always just been a part of me," she tells me.
In 2007, she got an idea that was different from her other work. The subject matter came from her own experiences, growing up black in small town North Carolina and as the mom of four sons. The words, she said, came from a higher entity.
"One day, the Lord just dropped the whole text on me," said Hawkins, whose faith in God guides her life.
The result is "Black or White, Which Does God Like?," a picture book. The book, written in verse, tells the story of Lynn, a young black girl who is friends with Beth Ann, who happens to be white. When some don't approve of their friendship, Lynn asks her mother why. It's a sweet story with an important message. Children's book explores racism
Growing up, Hawkins said she learned that her town was integrated by day, but segregated by night. While she counted many white people as good friends at school, she was never invited to their parties and social events.
Fast forward a couple of decades and her own sons have had to deal with issues too. One son overheard a librarian at his Wake County elementary school tell his best friend, who is white, that he shouldn't spend time with him anymore. The librarian told the boy that Hawkins' son would just end up in jail one day and so would he if he continued to be friends with him.
Hawkins admits to her own prejudices too about white people. She was particularly offended by interracial marriage. But that changed as her faith in God grew.
"The day I gave my life to the Lord, he took it. He took it away," she said.
After writing the text down in 2007, Hawkins wasn't sure what to do with it. And, for some time, she didn't do much about it. She was afraid the topic might be too controversial. And she worried what some members of her extended family, who harbor their own prejudices, might think.
Eventually, she let her husband, kids and friends read it. Finally, lessons she learned during a Bible study last fall convinced her the book needed to be published. She found a publisher and illustrator. By January, the book was done. It was officially launched in March.
Hawkins hopes the book encourages both kids and adults to take a look at how they think about people of different races.
"Most people don't think they are prejudice," she tells me. "Most people will agree that it's an ugly thing. They're not willing to examine their hearts. ... You can't heal if you're not willing to look at the dark places."
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