Triad fifth-grader writes book to inspire others and coloring book on ‘Black Boy Joy’

Positively Carolina

(WGHP) — While protests, the pandemic, and the election gripped the country in the last year, one Piedmont fifth-grader took a step back and did something pretty cool. He wrote a book called “Mommy If You Just Hold My Hand.”

“My mom came up with the title and that sort of gave me some leeway on what to write about,” Landon said.

Salina Barksdale-Clark first realized writing was her son’s thing when he attended summer camp at UNCG a couple of years ago.

“That’s where we first learned that a) he had a gift for it, but b) that I always wanted to ensure that we give each of our children a voice to their gifts,” she explained. “So we had an opportunity. The timing, as Landon said, was right. And we gave him a pen and a notepad — literally in 30 minutes we had a book.”

“The book is for any ages and it basically shows and tells that with support from anyone you can do and be anything you want to be,” Landon said.

Salina fought back tears as we talked about how important the book is to them.

“The book is very personal not just for us, but for all the images perhaps that don’t show us in the right light, the imageries that we see — it can take a toll on all of us,” she said. “Especially in a space where children are sometimes, with social media and parents being away due to obligations with work, kids may not know exactly how to express what’s going on.”

But Landon found a way. He’s been immersed in history since he was little. His parents had him on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, at 3. We asked him what it was like watching history in real time over the last year, especially when it comes to race in America.

“It hasn’t been like great, but I wasn’t beat up by it. I know it isn’t good at all. But sometimes stuff like that, it takes over you and a lot of people, they need a break from social media.”

They also created a coloring book full of positive affirmations for children. For young boys who look like Landon, who is Black, this book is about something known as “Black Boy Joy.”

“Black Boy Joy is an expression or a term,” Salina explained. “It means many different things to many different people, but to me personally it means the smile on a brown boy’s face when the world is telling him you’re not worthy or you’re not capable or you cannot be more than.”

Landon took the explanation a step further.

“Black Boy Joy is sort of like when a Black individual even in his darkest hours is still being the light in the world, vibrant in any situation,” he said.

And with that light, lessons for any age and any race.

“Sometimes you need support or you need to support others,” he said. “In this time right now, it’s like teetering and not enough people are supporting others, a lot of people are bringing down others and not lifting them up. And that’s pretty much the main message I wanted to give out.”

“I think it’s a light way to introduce all that’s possible,” mom added.

You can pick up a copy of “Mommy, If You Just Hold My Hand” at any online retailer where you normally order your books.

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