"Their authenticity is their superpower": Children’s book author Bettinita Harris encourages Black girls to embrace who they are

Even though the U.S. has inaugurated its first Black female vice president, award-winning journalist and author Bettinita Harris says too many Black girls, like herself, still grow up feeling overlooked. This led her to create a series of children’s books inspiring young African American girls to explore their racial identity, develop a strong self-image — and be exactly who they want to be.

Harris’ multimedia company, Colored Girl Wisdom, LLC, has released three books in the “Sisters for Life, Best Friends Forever” series. All three books — “Aria’s Rockin’ Poufs,” “Aria’s Crown” and “I Am Aria” —  tell a story of empowerment and encouragement from the viewpoint of a grandmother having a conversation with her young granddaughter, Aria.

Harris says she hopes her books will inspire young girls around the world to understand, sooner than she did, that what matters isn’t fitting in but having the courage to create your own unique identity. 

“What I am trying to do with the book is to tell young Black girls that they are enough. That they don’t have to fit in. They don’t have to be like anyone else. What they have is enough,” Harris told CBSN in an interview Wednesday. 

“Aria’s Rockin’ Poufs,” the latest book in the series, illustrates Aria’s journey in recognizing that embracing her natural hair unlocks her self-confidence, and that she doesn’t have to change how she looks to be accepted.

“Hair, especially to African American girls, women, is very important. We are the only race where our hair can make a political statement,” Harris said. “I want my granddaughters to embrace whatever their hair is because once you start changing things to try to fit in, that’s a trick of the enemy. You change this and you change that and next thing you know, you’re not yourself. What they have to understand is, their authenticity is their superpower.”

Harris, who has worked in journalism for more than 20 years, said she’s always been drawn to stories that upended the status quo and gave a voice to those who did not have one. The themes of each book in the “Sisters for Life, Best Friends Forever” series mirror Harris’ interest in stories that challenge society’s preconceived notions.

“I don’t want my granddaughters to live in a world where they sit back and people tell them, ‘You are this, you are that.’ I want them to live in a world where they say, ‘I am. I am strong. I am smart. I can do this.'”

Harris also noted that while she understands the popularity of terms like “Black Girl Magic” and “Black Excellence,” she always reminds her granddaughters that “excellence does not have a color.”

“They are talented. They are gifted. They work hard. They have taken advantage of every opportunity that has been presented to them and magic has nothing to do with it,” she said. 

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