THROUGH A CHILD'S EYES: Author Kenneth Braswell with his book, Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside [Photo credit: Kenneth Braswell]
A FATHER who was left flustered after his young son asked him the meaning of protesting, has come up with a solution that he hopes will also help other parents of young children facilitate the conversation.
When Kenneth Braswell, the founder of Fathers Incorporated, realised that he could not explain protesting in a child-friendly way to his then-six-year-old son in the face of the Baltimore protests for Freddie Gray - the young black man who died from back injuries at the hands of six police officers - he decided to do something about it.
Using his son's simple question - 'what is protesting?' - as a catalyst, he decided to write a children’s book, Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside.
“I had an adult answer for that, but I did not have a six-year-old answer," Braswell told The Root.
“And I fumbled with trying to explain to him what protest meant, why people were protesting and what they were protesting.”
Braswell is the founder and executive director of Fathers Incorporated, an Atlanta-based organisation that does a lot of work around responsible fatherhood and black male achievement across the country.
Shortly before his son asked the question that opened the proverbial Pandora’s box, Braswell had been in Baltimore for another event that just so happened to coincide with the indictments of officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death.
Naturally, his son became curious about what was going on after learning where his father was. And eventually, after the initial fumble, Braswell came back with a proper answer.
It was only after talking with several other parents and friends, however, that Braswell realised that his conundrum was a common one. Several people he spoke to didn’t know how to address the question he described, and one friend, also an author of children’s books, recommended that he write one about the issue.
And so Braswell wrote Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside, which was fully released to the public last month, most fittingly, on Martin Luther King Jr Day in the US.
“I wanted to begin to create a narrative that would allow both parents and teachers to have conversations with young kids, particularly in this case between the grades of one [and] four, about what’s taking place in our communities,” Braswell added.
The illustrated book features a black mother and father trying to explain the concept of protesting and the different types of protests to their two children, using examples such as Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech as well as the Million Man March. In the end the children understand and jokingly ask whether they can protest school.