Interview with Author Danielle Gaitor
What motivated you to write this book?
This book was written based on my collective experience as a Bahamian, having lived in different countries, and having traveled to even more countries. The things written in this book are things that I wish that I knew and felt from an early age. I want to share this knowledge with the youth from similar upbringings, but I also want the message of this book to permeate the African Diaspora. I had to teach myself a lot of things about my blackness as an adult. In a sense, this is a message to my younger self- the same “self” that I see in black children around the world.
Who is your ideal audience?
This book was written for children/youth because it is so important to affirm children in who they are at an early age. However, I want parents to read this book with their children. It is my hope that this book will be used as a teaching guide in black households. It is not a conventional children’s book, but one that is so needed. As the parents are affirming their children, they are subconsciously affirming their own inner child.
Interesting title, why did you choose it?
They Never Told Us That Black is Beautiful. The message of this book is very specific, but “they” can refer to different groups. Beauty also does not strictly refer to physical beauty. I believe that there is something beautifully magical about being black.
Many black people do not learn in their very own communities that we are beautiful in all our blackness and then we go out into the world to again not be affirmed in who we are. It leads to internalized and unconscious self-hate. Many black people believe that proximity to whiteness means more beautiful. These are ideals that are generationally perpetuated in our communities in the form of colorism, texturism and featurism. Of course, these are residual effects of slavery and colonialism, but I need our people to free ourselves mentally.
Why did you think it was important to include self-care tips?
It’s one thing to tell people to change or be better. It’s another thing to give them tangible steps to bring about the change that I am advocating for. The tips I provided are a few things that I learned as an adult, especially the ones about caring for my hair and my skin. Every black child should know these things.
In 2021, why do you think black people still struggle to love and accept themselves as they are?
I believe that I answered this is in a previous question, but I will say that we must start in our own homes. Parents who struggle to love themselves are raising children who then do not love themselves. We must break the cycles in our homes first and watch how more powerful we can be as a people.
You went to Spelman, how did that experience shape you?
Spelman reaffirmed me as a Black woman and there are so many experiences during that time that elevated me into who I am today. But I will say that the same issues that we have in the collective black community, like colorism, exist everywhere, even in the Atlanta University Center Consortium of which Spelman is a part.
How important do you feel Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's) are to the global black community?
In The Bahamas, black people are the majority. When we leave The Bahamas and are exposed to first world countries, the narrative changes. I am a strong advocate for HBCU’s. There is an indescribable feeling to see engineers, doctors, artists, scientists and college presidents who look like you! It is sheer positive programming. You feel at home. You feel capable. You feel confident. You feel seen. It’s a beautiful and powerful thing to experience. I’ve witnessed the opposite of this, and I can tell you that it can be difficult to navigate and difficult to feel like you belong.
What do you hope to accomplish with this book?
You know that tingly feeling that you get when you hear your favorite song, when you see a loved one, or whenever you experience something that makes your heart smile? I want every person to read this book and feel that way about themselves. Because that’s how I feel- So loved. So special. So affirmed. Now that I know what I know.
Danielle's book will be available for purchase next month. Stay connected to Black Food Bookstore & Culture Shop for details.