A deputy head teacher is publishing a collection of letters by successful black British women to inspire young black girls.
Amanda Wilson (pictured), who works at a primary school in Greenwich, is releasing Letters to a Young Generation: Part Two on 5th December (£6.99) through her own imprint, 9:10 Publishing, and distributed by Gardners. Wilson initially created the list in 2012 to publish her own novel, but is now looking for titles with a focus on youth and community.
Last year Wilson collected essays by black men for black boys in Letters for a Young Generation: Part One. She said: “It occurred to me that we often see and hear about lots of books out there to motivate and encourage young black boys and girls from American writers but I wasn’t aware of anything [similar] from a British perspective. There are very few men who work in primary schools, and even fewer black men, so formeasan educator it was important to have individuals children can relate to.”
She added: “It is a challenge in schools to get a budget to get anyone in to talk, but a book makes it accessible.” Contributors to Part One included Labour Party MP David Lammy and entrepreneur Mac Attram.
While Wilson had always planned an equivalent version for girls, the success of Part One pushed it forward. She said: “I made a list of black women I thought would be good. The key thing is that they are all good role models. I wanted a cross-section of women; athletes, entertainers, businesswomen. Everybody who reads the book should be able to relate to at least one of the letters.”
The book is made up of 17 letters from women including singers Sinitta and Ms Dynamite, “The Apprentice” contestant and businesswoman Bianca Miller, and the first black female prison officer at Feltham Young Offenders Institute, Annmarie Lewis.
The book’s foreword has been written by Kanya King OBE, founder of the MOBO (Music of Black Origin) awards. The women who have contributed will also help to publicise the book through their own networks. Wilson said: “I love all the letters because they are all so different and reflect the women who wrote them. I want to make all of these women household names.”
The target audience for the collection is girls aged 11 to 19 but Wilson also highlights the universality of the letters: “Parents can cherry pick letters for younger children and teachers can use some as mentoring tools. But really whether you are the target audience or not, however old you are and whether you are white or black, they are still amazing, encouraging letters.”