Six Questions with Artika R. Tyner
Dr. Artika R. Tyner (a.k.a. Miss Freedom Fighter, Esquire) is a passionate educator, an award-winning author, a civil rights attorney, a sought-after speaker, and an advocate for justice who is committed to helping children discover their leadership potential and serve as change agents in the global community. She is the founder/CEO of the Planting People Growing Justice Press and Bookstore. Visit Artika's website to learn more about her work.
1. What three things bring you joy?
1) Faith 2) Family and Community 3) Red Velvet Cake
2. What kind of student were you? What are your favorite subjects?
I was a curious and engaged student. I always served as the teacher's assistant by tutoring my peers. I was also a young emerging servant leader. I found ways to serve in my school and community from hosting food drives to volunteering at the library. I remember being honored as "Citizen of the Week." This is still one of my most cherished memories.
My favorite subjects were science, English, and history.
3. When do you write? How often do you write? Where do you write?
I write daily. As ideas come to mind, I write them down. When I hear the voices of my characters, I write down the conversations. I write in our writing studio, Aya's Place which was created for those who are passionate about employing the arts and humanities to bring about racial justice and healing can pause, reflect and grow. We use the space to connect with our inner artists and reimagine ourselves and the world with clarity.
4. If you could tell readers one secret about Justice Makes a Difference, what would it be?
This book was inspired by my own life story. The grandma is the likeness of my maternal grandmother who taught me how to serve and lead in the community. Of course, Justice is young Dr. Artika Tyner.
5. What was the most challenging thing you faced while writing and researching Justice?
The most challenging thing while writing was to ensure that I was connecting with my audience- children. My first draft read like a dissertation. I visited schools and early education centers and shared my book concept. I listened as children described what it means to be a superhero for justice. These young voices shaped the main character, Justice.
The most challenging part of my research was limiting the number of heroes and sheroes to showcase. There are so many pioneering African American leaders. This gave me the inspiration to make "Justice Makes a Difference" a series. The next book will showcase African Americans in STEM.
6. What's a particularly striking or memorable reaction someone has had to this book?
I received an email with a photo from a father. When he gave his daughter my Justice book, she hugged the book and declared: "Daddy, it's me!" This little Black girl could finally see herself on the cover of a book. I never had this experience when I was young. This is why I write my books. I want children to see both mirrors and windows. Mirrors for children of color to see a positive representation of themselves on the pages of my books. Windows for all children to build cultural bridges.