Jamaican author celebrates black royalty in new children’s book

COVID-19 has forced many people to postpone their goals, but for author Tiffany M Thomas, the pandemic has given her more time to work on passion projects.

Jamaican author Tiffany M Thomas

Just last month, she released her third children’s book for 2020, Dear Black Child, You Are Royalty. Its title provides an inkling of the Afro-conscious theme which Thomas develops through important black figures throughout history.

“Some of the figures featured are Mansa Musa who is the richest man in history… Makeda, also known as the Queen of Sheba, who is often portrayed in movies as a different race, but this powerful woman was indeed a black woman. Shaka Zulu, who was a brilliant warrior and ruler, and Ranavalona I, who is often portrayed as a madwoman, but during a time when most African countries were colonised, she did what was necessary to protect her people against colonisers,” Thomas told BUZZ.

She continued: “These are just some individuals that stand out to me. However, all the figures in the book are powerful men and women who impacted the lives of their people tremendously. They should be household names within the black community and the world at large.”

Some backlash

The 26-year-old said the absence of such books from her childhood school curriculum served as inspiration, as well as the “current climate of racial injustice and understanding that black children may be feeling scared and depressed… I think this book will bring (them) positivity and upliftment…”

The book, which also has an activity section, is primarily receiving good feedback, though there has been some backlash.

“Some persons believe I am trying to say that black children are superior to children of other races, this is not the case,” she said. “I’m just teaching our children about their royal bloodline… I find that a lot of adults or older teens do not know some or even all of this information, and I think it would be a great buy for them as well. So far I have self-published this book, but the expectation is to garner enough attention that will help me get this book in schools across the world.”

Emphasising representation

Representation is a major theme in Thomas’ work. Though she holds a degree in Human Resource Management from the University of the West Indies, she has always had an affinity for African history. Her writing venture began as a way to expand black representation in literature to her son, which led to her first publication, The Adventures of Prince Dominic, released earlier this year. That book, targeting children ages one to three, also serves as an introduction to the Spanish language.

Her second book, Tiny Voices, Big Prayer, upped the ante by portraying a black God and black angels.

“Representation is important in all forms, both natural and supernatural,” said Thomas. “I find that a lot of people agree with having black people represented in various forms, but when it comes to the image of God then it’s off limits. If God made us in His image, then our children deserve to see a God that looks like them. I think this aids with the development of the child psychologically, and we need to start paying more attention to that as a people.”

She hadn’t planned on publishing three books in such a short time, but it is surely in line with her desire to educate and enrich.

“The ultimate long-term goal in writing is to create materials that will uplift and encourage our children,” she said. “The ultimate long-term goal in life is to pursue excellence and exceed all my expectations.”