Question:THIS IS MY AMERICA is your debut YA novel. Where did the idea behind the book come from, and why did you decide to write the book for a teen audience?
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The Black Lives Matter movement was born out of Ferguson protests that emerged from not only the murder of Mike Brown, but Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, and generations upon generations of Black people disproportionately targeted, profiled, and over-sentenced.
After reading Bryan Stevenson’s JUST MERCY, I wanted to expand a deeper understanding of the faults and foundation of our criminal justice system and dispel myths.
As a teen, I didn’t have characters in fiction who looked like me or held similar interests. In THIS IS MY AMERICA, I wanted young people engaged in activism to see themselves on the page.
Black freedom around the world is something I continue to long for, and I use activism through literature to bear witness and document our times like James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Audre Lorde and countless others.