Talk to me about your new children’s book and what inspired you to write it.
Jalisa Smith: My children’s book is about helping young children ages (11-18) to help overcome the loss of their loved ones. I encourage the children through prayer, scriptures and also allow them to list things they are feeling inside. It is also a page where the children can put pictures of their loved ones. I wanted this to be a special book and not a book they read and put back on the book shelf, but a book that they can keep reading and gain strength and understanding to look back on how far they have come.
I was inspired to write in the midst of our black lives matters chant when Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Korryn Gaines etc. were back-to-back murder cases due to police brutality. I began to hear how so many children were being affected by this. Our young mothers and fathers were slipping away. Then God took me to remember the time I lost my father at the age of 11 and how difficult it was for me to stay in school and keep playing basketball. Education was very important to my father and I knew that so I took a week off after the funeral but caught up very quickly and graduated from high school and college.
What made you want to do a children’s book, instead of a book meant for adults?
Jalisa Smith: I consider myself more of a storyteller than an author. The best thing to write about is your own personal life. I love encouraging people and I felt it was the perfect time to do so. I lost my dad when I was 11 years old and it was the most painful thing I ever experienced. I wish I had a book to help and guide me through.
Police brutality and senseless violence have become a major problem in society. What do you think the police and the communities need to do to help stop it?
Jalisa Smith: I think the police really need to start thinking before they take action to any situation. I think they need to act accordingly to the situation and not make it what it is not. They need to understand these are innocent lives that are being taking away from our children; I could not imagine life without my son. I think people need to pray first and foremost because any day can be our last. I think we should support each other more because not only are the police doing the killing but we are killing each other. As people we should just do what the police require for us to do until we are out of their reach. But for the most part let go and let God.