ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mariame Kaba is an organizer, educator and curator who’s active in numerous social movements for prison abolition, racial justice, gender justice, and transformative justice. She is the founder and director of Project NIA, a grassroots organization with a vision to end youth incarceration, and a co-founder of numerous organizations including the Chicago Freedom School, Love and Protect, the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women and most recently Survived & Punished.
Mariame is also a co-organizer of the Just Practice Collaborative, a training and mentoring group focused on sustaining a community of practitioners who provide community-based accountability and support structures for all parties involved with incidents and patterns of sexual, domestic, relationship, and intimate community violence.
Mariame is on the advisory boards of the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Critical Resistance and the Chicago Community Bond Fund.
Her writing has appeared in the Nation Magazine, the Guardian, The Washington Post, In These Times, Jacobin, The New Inquiry, Teen Vogue and more. She runs Prison Culture blog.
Learn more at www.mariamekaba.com
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
bria royal is a multidisciplinary artist from Chicago, IL. She considers her animation, comics, paintings and zines to be the result of a radical healing process that she hopes others will benefit from seeing unfold, and an attempt to construct intersectionally black and indigenous mythologies for ourselves and our future liberated descendants. Much of her work centralizes black and brown imaginations of womxnhood, femininity and gender fluidity through a lens of eco-feminism, afro-futurism and contemporary mythology.
bria is a 2016 graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied Communications, Film, and Psychology, and she uses those fields to guide her approach toward creative modes of storytelling through technological innovation. She is deeply invested in the liberation of marginalized communities of color worldwide and organizes with the People’s Response Team and For The People Artists Collective in Chicago.
Alongside the arts, bria often facilitates workshops around themes of contemporary mythological storytelling, trauma-informed media journalism, anti-blackness in communities of color, transformative justice imagination, and issues related to mental health in activist spaces. Other interests include skateboarding, wildlife refuge, and astrophysics.
I wrote this book out of frustration. In my anti-prison work, I’ve witnessed firsthand the ravages of incarceration and its impact(s) on our communities. Over the years, I’ve often been asked by caregivers, educators and organizers for resources to help children with an incarcerated loved one to cope with loss, grief and trauma. I’ve struggled to come up with good resources to share so I decided to create one myself.
There are 2.7 million children under 18 who have an incarcerated parent and over 5 million have experienced the incarceration of a parent at some point in their lives. In other words, 1 in 28 American children (3.6%) have an incarcerated parent. Thirty years ago, the number was 1 in 125. About 1 in 9 Black children and 1 in 28 Latino children have an incarcerated parent. More than 14,000 children of incarcerated parents enter foster care each year.
These numbers are staggering. As a result of the epidemic of incarceration, millions of children have endured traumatic separations from their parents. This has impacted their material conditions, their mental health, their school performance and their overall well-being.
Each of these children has a story to tell. Yet we rarely hear their voices in public. Many children cannot articulate their feelings of longing for their incarcerated parent and so they keep their anger, sadness and fear bottled up. This book is my attempt to amplify the voices of children with incarcerated loved ones.
I am deeply appreciative and grateful to bria royal for their gorgeous illustrations which brought the story to life. I am also profoundly thankful to Jane Ball whose thoughtful edits helped the main character find her authentic voice. Thanks also to Eve Ewing, Kelly Hayes, Mandi Hinkley, Angie Manfredi, Santera Michels and Maya Schenwar for reading drafts of this story and offering critical feedback.
Finally, this book is dedicated to all of the children who miss their loved ones because of a cruel punishment system that does little to make our communities safer.