A Book Born 5 Years Ago

Monday, December 21, 2020

 Forty-one years ago on this day, my daughter was born. And five years, 1 month and 21 days ago, my book was conceived.

I’ve been posting about my book on the Tulsa Race Riot (really a massacre, not a riot). I’ve been posting about some criticism/advice I’ve been given, since my book’s main character is young and Black and male, and I’m ancient, white-as-notebook-paper and female. (In case you want to catch up, I wrote this post and then this post.)

My book has not been published yet. An educator-artist is working on the cover, and my publisher (My publisher! My publisher!) is doing a final wade-through on my manuscript. The goal? A print schedule that will allow me to go to Tulsa (with books) for the 100-year anniversary commemoration activities at the end of May, 2021.

When I approached a nationally-known expert on the Tulsa Race Massacre (I’ve spoken to her at several national conventions) to ask her to read my manuscript and write a blurb, when she learned it was not an #OwnVoices story, she respectfully declined… and gave me some suggestions as well as some information.

image by Pixabay

One of the things she said made me stop dead in my tracks. She said, “I struggle with teaching the Tulsa Race Massacre at this point because I've heard from colleagues that Black Tulsans feel both glad that the story is out, but taken aback by the number of projects created about it by white people. As if their pain was material for others.”

There is no way I want to profit in any way on the backs of the massacre’s victims. No way.

In the comments to my posts, there were some great suggestions. Donate some of the book’s proceeds to a charity. Create a college scholarship for a Black Tulsan. That made me think of the Greenwood Cultural Center, an educational center focused on the Tulsa Race Massacre.

As a teacher, I know how tough it is to scrape together money to go on field trips. Perhaps my proceeds could help pay for classroom trips to the Greenwood Cultural Center. Then I considered what an impact various writing opportunities have had on my life. What if the money from my book could pay a young Black Tulsan to write a performance about the Tulsa Race Massacre for the Greenwood Cultural Center? A rapper, a songwriter, a movie maker… What if they received a grant to create something that could be seen on a screen at the center?

This is what I’m leaning toward currently. The other ideas I’m considering came from comments to my post. What other ideas do you folks have?

Sioux Roslawski is the author of a soon-to-be-published middle-grade novel about the Tulsa Race Massacre. If you'd like to read more of her writing, check out her blog.


Jeanine DeHoney said...

Again, congratulations Sioux for the publication of your book. It is a great accomplishment and you deserve to stand proudly, head held high up to the sky, for never losing sight of your vision. The suggestions and ideas you have to contribute to Black Tulsans are very good. Here are a few other suggestions. You can donate to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum to support their collections, exhibits, preservation and adult and children's educational programs. Also there is the, "Justice For Greenwood Foundation," which is a historic legal battle to get justice for the victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre and their descendants, you can donate to. I also like the idea of an educational grant or arts grant as you mentioned, to encourage dialogue and racial healing amongst students.

Renee Roberson said...

I second Jeanine's suggestion about contributing to the Justice for Greenwood Foundation and/or funding a scholarship for a young Black Tulsan to create their own project about the race riot. I also like the idea of funding an essay contest where the students reflect on what the time period in history means to them and their families--you could put together a panel of educators/writers to help select a few different winners.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I think you'll have a better idea of the possibilities after your book comes out and you take a look at financials. I always think in terms of where you can make the biggest impact with the amount in hand. Good luck, Sioux!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Jeanine--Thanks for your suggestions. They're all good ones... and I hope your holiday is a good one.

Renee--Thanks. An essay contest is great idea. Perhaps the winning essays could be featured at either the museum or the culturual center... Have fun with your kids over Christmas.

Cathy--I think your idea of waiting to see what kind of money is involved (not much, I imagine) before making a decision is a good one... and have a great Christmas.

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