Mass incarceration is an issue that has plagued the black community for decades. Rasheeda Jones, an LAUSD psychiatric social worker and Dorsey graduate, created the children’s book “Justice” to help young people cope with the incarceration of a loved one. Although she wrote the book to help young people cope with the repercussions of the problem, it also helped her cope.
“I am a woman who is touched by incarceration,” Jones said. “I thought it would be very beneficial for the community, very beneficial for me and my healing to create a tangible tool not only for me, but also for my students and my nieces and nephews.”
The book “Justice” is about a boy whose father is incarcerated and his journey to come to terms with his situation.
“The little boy, he does not know how to share. So he has these feelings of embarrassment, of isolation,” Jones said. “He builds that courage, and he shares with other people…and that just brings community and empathy and how can we have empathy and show up for each other.”
To further the conversation about incarceration, Jones has also created an activity book. As a child therapist, Jones wants to provide resources that help young people when she’s not around.
“It makes sense that I created an activity book to build family relationships, build children’s skills and tools, and coping mechanisms,” she said.
The activity book can help parents interact with their children and help children find a way to express themselves.
Writing “Justice” took Jones about three months. Working with the illustrator of her book took over a year. She also added some tips for readers.
“I wanted the characters to be very precise in detail and so there was a lot of back and forth,” Jones said. “Once the project was complete, I felt different things were needed…what else could I add to the book to make it more tangible and engaging for an audience and so I added advice to the end.”
Jones earned her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Cal State LA and her Masters of Social Work from Clark University in Atlanta. While at Clark, she completed a thesis on the impacts of incarceration on the well-being of African American families. Through her research, she saw how families and communities were socially, financially, emotionally and physically impacted.
Jones is also a mental health advocate; she created the website www.mentalnotebyimanitawfiq.com to raise awareness. It aims to promote mental health in the black community. Every Wednesday she posts writing prompts and every Friday she showcases the work of people in the community who use writing as a coping mechanism.
“I have people who have never shared their work or any of their mental health experiences who are vulnerable saying ‘I trust you Rasheeda and I hope this helps me, so I want to share it'” , said Jones.
For more information on “Justice”, visit tawfiqspublishing.com. “Justice” is also sold on Amazon.com.
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