Omolara Aza Mino: Let’s Teach Black Children To Be Proud Of Their Identity

Interview with Omolara Aza Mino, activist and author of A (Black) Children’s Story series.

There is a lot more in Black history than slavery. However, according to the National United States History Content Standards for Grades 5 -12, there are no content teaching requirements concerning African Americans except on the topics of slavery, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement. The question then is: where  Black people were the rest of the time? Certainly, as a race, we didn’t just appear around 400 years ago, and then got shipped immediately to the United States as slaves.  We were  independent people, with our own culture, history, languages, and social structures. Unfortunately, none of this great history is taught in schools. That is why we were very excited to learn about the great work Omolara Aza Mino is doing with her books, A (Black) Children’s Story series. This series was written with the purpose of “uplifting little Black children all over the world.” Omolara was able to make some time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about the inspiration behind the books. She also opens up about other projects she’s working on to empower the Black community and make positive change.
 You’re doing a very important job for our children. I read some of the reviews and comments under your books on Amazon and they are very positive. As a community, we want to commend you on what you are doing. Before we begin, can you tell us what your books are about and how your books teach our children to be Black boys and girls?
Omolara Aza Mino
Yeah, my books are actually a 3-in-1 series on Amazon called A (Black) Children’s Stories. So the three stories that I have in it are Brown Like Me, Curls Like Me and Name Like Me. All of these stories are empowering stories about Black children, being around them, being uncomfortable with the skin that they are actually in, being uncomfortable about their hair, being uncomfortable about their name. What the book really does is, it educates them about where those things come from and gives them a sense of pride. So it’s a family book, and I meant for it to be the story that parents can read with their children and that both the parents and the children can grow and learn from.
 What inspired you to write these books, with the Black child in mind?
Omolara Aza Mino
 One night, I wasn’t sleeping and I was thinking about Dr. Seuss. I was thinking about how basically he’s super famous and his books are so widespread when all he was really doing was rhyming in a book. And I was thinking about how many people within my community do that on an everyday basis – I’m a female MC myself, and so I do rhyming all the time. I just had never thought to actually rhyme in a book. I had messages that I wanted to give my kids and I was thinking of a good way to do it. Then I realised, when I thought about Dr. Seuss, that I’m going to do exactly what I do on an everyday basis and just do it in a book. So that’s really how it all came together. My books are actually what they are – very, very simple. I wrote it to be a 16 bar, like a verse that’s just spread out through the pages.
I should say that you are doing a great job. There are some excellent reviews on your book and I must commend you on that.
Omolara Aza Mino
Thank you. I appreciate it.
 You’re also a part of the project, BlacknUnleashed which deals with another very important issue in the Black community, and that is #BlackforBlacks or #LetsBuyBlack, basically us supporting Black-owned businesses. As a community, we are very interested in this movement because we see this as a way of empowering the Black community here in America, and so we see that this trend is something that has very good prospects. Can you tell us what your role in  BlacknUnleashed peoject is?
Omolara Aza Mino
Yes. One of my sorority sisters had a clothing line that only had historically Greek organisation gear, she was selling apparel for Greek organisations. And then what happened was that I had this idea for designs because there were a lot of things happening in the world around me and it got me really infuriated. As an artist, what I do with those feelings is I like put them to art. So I started to think about how it would be so amazing to see Black people rocking clothes that actually empower them rather than rocking some clothing line made by somebody that is outside of their community, giving somebody else their money. So with that, basically, what I did – though I’m not a co-founder – was I proposed to her the idea to open up her clothing line to be for Blacks in general, to be a Black-owned clothing line, and from there, I started to make designs. So I would say that I am a designer for BlacknUnleashed. Before, it was just called Unleashed, but when I came on board and added my ideas, it became BlacknUnleashed. I also directed our promotional video for it. I do a lot of background things, but I don’t necessarily have a position just because that is my sorority sister and she is one of my closest friends. I just help her a lot with the business.
 This idea of Black-owned businesses or Black economic empowerment, was actually a part of the 10-point program of Huey. P. Newton, who was one of the founding fathers of the Black Panther Party. Do you support any of these protest movements or Black rights movements?
Omolara Aza Mino

[resp] I would say the revolution is within me. It’s not even on the outside. So whether or not I go to a protest or a march or I participate in the community protests that involve them demanding things from America, the revolution is within me. With every step that I make, when I talk, when I walk, everything about me speaks of Black revolution, or revolution itself. This is my identity, it is who I am. I’m a Black revolutionary just by identity and that’s not something what can ever change. So that’s what I would say about it. Yes, I’m Black power all day, but am I a part of a specific organisation or movement? No. I have my own things that I’m trying to build, like my books and my clothing line. There are different ways, I believe, revolution can take place, not necessarily just outside on the ground.
 I totally do agree with you and I think every contribution matters. Everybody should play their role.
Omolara Aza Mino
 So do you have any upcoming events connected with your books or BlacknUnleashed that you would like to tell our readers about?
Omolara Aza Mino
 Yeah. I have a website that I’m working on right now, it’s called the Omoshow. So instead of going  to Amazon, people will be able to go directly to my website, the Omoshow, and get my work there. They’ll be able to find my poetry, my dance videos, my videos where I’m just talking about different Black topics, my paintings, my music. And I have three projects that are going to be coming out soon. One of them is called Revolutionary Rap. Like I said, I’m a female MC, and that, along with my books, I believe, is what means the most. Because I’m trying to express myself in many ways and so I’m giving myself the platform to be able to do that. If people can support that would be amazing.
 Do your family, friends and local community support all your efforts to empower the Black community?
Omolara Aza Mino
 Yes. I would say in the beginning it was a little tough. When I started to evolve, I felt like most people, because they were used to me being one way, were wondering where it was coming from. They probably thought I was a little crazy, but now, I believe that what is happening in the world is bringing everybody to a different state of consciousness where they are realising that I was never crazy. Now they’re seeing the value and what it is that I bring – the value in what I’m saying, and what I believe in, and they’re even starting to implement those ideas themselves. So I would say that for me, the experience is that I’ve been an inspiration. I always add a new element to the space, and people appreciate me. And I appreciate them appreciating me.
 Many people who join the Black rights movement try to do different things like you’re doing with your books and the clothing line to empower the Black community. I think that examples like yours really inspire others. Recently, I spoke with Rohan Gilkes, who founded Innclusive because there is a racial profiling issue on Airbnb and other sharing accommodation platforms that he wants to tackle. I think that all these stories coming out make people want to also take action. What would you like to say to our readers? What are your final words to them?
Omolara Aza Mino
 I would say this. When you say “Black lives matter” – and I’m talking to Black people, not other people – what you are doing is you are telling people outside of yourself to care about you, to believe that your life is important, but it’s not certain that they will change their mind. That’s nothing different from what we have already been doing in this country for the past 400 plus years since we’ve been here, screaming that our lives are important. So with that, language is everything. When you say “Black lives matter”,  you are empowering yourself, telling yourself that no matter what they do, no matter what anyone does, no matter what happens, you will always be alive, you will always be strong, you will always win. So a change in the language of the movement will change the movement itself. It will make it more fiery, and it will make the job done if we realize that the job is on us, that we have to be empowering ourselves, and the revolution is within us. For the community that is outside my community, I think it is important for you to continue to say “Black lives matter”, because that is creating awareness outside of the Black community that our lives shouldn’t be taken lightly. I believe that Black people need to be creating an awareness of their own selves which is that they are powerful, they are light, they are beauty, they are everything that this world needs and everything that this world benefits from, and there’s nothing that anyone can do to change that.

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