Updated: Aug 20, 2019
We've recently had the honor of interviewing our sweet author, Ebony Lewis, whose debut children's book, Dear Black Boy: It's Ok To Cry, was written with the hope that more young men of color would learn it's okay to stand up and admit when you're not okay.
Orange Hat Publishing: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Ebony Lewis: My name is Ebony Lewis, formerly Haynes, and I was raised in Milwaukee, WI. I spent the majority of my high school and college life thinking I would be a big-time famous journalist or publicist traveling the world, until I came back home and found my purpose working with youth. My mission in life is to inspire youth and youth advocates to aspire to achieve their dreams with passion, mental wellness and love.
After graduating from Columbia College in Chicago, IL and working many years in marketing and public relations, I embarked on a search to find a career where I could make a difference every single day tapping into her passion for young people. I currently work as the director of Leadership & Service and Health & Wellness for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee where I have been for the past four years.
I am also the proud founder of Double Dutch to Dreams, a youth development program dedicated to teaching youth the importance of physical and mental health.
I am married to love of my life Deonte Lewis. I have a bonus son DJ, who brings me so much joy, and I am currently expecting a baby boy in August 2019.
OH: What inspired you to write a book?
EL: This book is one that I was inspired to write about three years ago after losing a cousin to suicide. I watched mental illness in rare form as my father battled with bipolar disorder my entire life, so I knew that it was real, but I also watched how many of my family members and people in my community ignored trauma and mental illness due to the many stigmas. Dear Black Boy: It’s Ok to Cry is a book about emotional well-being. A book that affirms the things that many times our young men are told not to do. I believe that the messages in the book encourage boys, youth and anyone else for that matter to live freely and embrace who they are, while also taking their mental and emotional health more seriously.
OH: What message do you want to leave readers with?
EL: I want to leave my readers with the message that being yourself is OK. Admitting that things are wrong is perfectly fine. And getting help can ultimately save your life. I want to encourage our boys to truly embrace all of who they are, including their emotions. Let’s start teaching our young men how to be in tune with how they feel. These small but necessary steps can be life-changing.
OH: Have you enjoyed the publishing process so far? Would you consider working on another book?
EL: Yes! It has been an amazing process. I must admit the writing process took me some time, as it was a lot to process considering where the motivation came from, but it is truly a message that I am excited to share with the world. I have truly appreciated Orange Hat and their process. It has been easy to understand and navigate and I am super excited to see the final product. I would definitely consider publishing another book. I have already started working on my next series of books.
OH: How did you learn of Orange Hat?
EL: I was introduced to Orange Hat through Deanna Singh, author of I Am A Boy of Color. She was very helpful along my journey of becoming an author and connected me with Shannon.
OH: What is your biggest goal for your book?
EL: My biggest goal for the book is to spark a much-needed conversation about mental health, specifically as it pertains to black and brown boys. I want to eventually use the message of this book to get to a larger platform and be a part of the conversations. I plan to go to schools, organizations, churches, etc. to continue the conversation.