Lawrence Lindell’s “From Black Boy With Love” Empowers Young Black Girls–And Boys
Experimental musician and visual artist Lawrence Lindell’s latest creation looks to make social change by empowering young Black boys and girls.
“From Black Boy With Love” is Lindell’s children’s book, which he published in late March, in dedication to “all the girls of color across the world who have been made to feel uncomfortable in their own skin.” The book was written and illustrated by L.A.-based Lindell, who told The Huffington Post he was tired of seeing Black children berating others with darker skin. “The first thing they go for when teasing each other is hair, body shape and skin tone,” Lindell said. “’You ol’ nappy-headed, Black-a– charcoal looking girl,’ ‘with yo ugly fat a–.’ We have to change the narrative that the more melanin you have means you’re uglier, and that natural hair is bad or improper.”
“From Black Boy With Love” is available on Lindell’s website. We connected with the author and illustrator by e-mail to get more insight on his project.
MadameNoire (MN): What prompted you to write “From Black Boy With Love”?
Lawrence Lindell (LL): Originally, I did one drawing titled “Brown Girl”‘ for my girlfriend, who has shared her stories about growing up and how her darker skin and curly hair were made out to be something bad. Then I started thinking about my mom, my sisters, my aunts, nieces, and cousins. So I made this for them and for all girls of color!
MN: What do you hope young boys take away from this?
LL: That speaking life into girls doesn’t make you weak or “thirsty,” but we should also be speaking life into them, not because we want something from them, but because they deserve it the same way we deserve to have life spoken into us. Take care of each other.
MN: Why is it targeted to young boys?
LL: It’s not. LOL That’s just the angle everyone took. This book is first and foremost for girls of color, I made the characters boys as an example and alternative to how we should be speaking to our girls and women. The boys are the latter part of the message. This book is for the girls first!
MN: You mentioned the book is an “alternative” to what you learned as a young boy. What sorts of things did you learn that you wanted to reverse?
LL: That it’s okay to treat women as property. Someone’s body determines their worth. Boys will be boys. All that crap! And it’s sad because we don’t go around saying disrespect girls and women, I learned this behavior for observation and praise. I was in downtown L.A. and I had to be about 4 or 5. I grabbed a mannequin’s breast and my family laughed about it and just said “well, at least we know he is all boy.” Seems harmless and cute, but that’s the kinda stuff that turns into more harmfulness later. What I feel they should have said was “keep your hands to yourself, unless you have permission to do otherwise.” I was 5, I didn’t need to be belittled or yelled at, but instead taught the proper way to do things.
MN: How are you marketing the book?
LL: LOL, I’m not. Black and brown women are. I originally premiered the book with Afropunk and only intended to do a run of 50. The message was so well received and became so high in demand that I decided this book was officially bigger than me and to give it my full attention.
MN: I know you are an artist, but do you also teach art for a living as well?
LL: I tour with my art studio. I travel the country and table at Zine and comic book fest, selling my comics, illustration books, and merchandise. Then I work at an elementary school during the week.
MN: Do you mentor young boys?
LL: I do, but not in an official big brother way, I just speak to young and old men I meet, share my perspective and insight and lead by example. It’s important because if we don’t do it, no one will, and on that part, I’m specifically speaking for Black men. We have to take care of our own, the world has proven they don’t care about us, they are not for us and couldn’t give a damn if we live or die.
MN: Why is this an important lesson to teach young boys?
LL: Because, unfortunately, men have the power. That will change, but right now the world is catered to men. If we teach them out the gate that girls and women are to be respected just as much as men, we might be able to stop the violence and abuse that women have to go through on a daily.
MN: What’s next for you?
LL: I go on tour in May. First stop is Chicago for Chicago Zine Fest. I have a few books in the works, but right now “From Black Boy With Love” is my focus. I also, really want to do some readings and talks at schools and after-school programs!