Mass incarceration has been an issue that has plagued the Black community for decades. LAUSD psychiatric social worker and Dorsey alum Rasheeda Jones created the children’s book “Justice” to help youth cope with having a close loved one in incarceration. While she wrote the book to help youth deal with being impacted by the issue, it also helped her cope.
“I’m a woman who’s impacted by incarceration,” Jones said. “I thought that it would be very beneficial to the community, very beneficial to myself and my healing to create a tangible tool for not only myself, but for my students and my nieces and nephews.”
The book “Justice” is about a boy whose father is incarcerated and his journey to accepting his situation.
“The little boy, he doesn’t know how to share. So he has these feelings of embarrassment, isolation,” Jones said. “He develops that courage, and he shares with other people … and it just brings about community and empathy and how can we have empathy and show up for each other.”
To further the conversation about incarceration, Jones also created an activity book. Being a child therapist, Jones wants to provide resources that help youth when she is not around.
“It only makes sense that I created an activity book to build family relationships, strengthen kid’s skills and tools and coping mechanisms,” she said.
The activity book can help parents interact with their children and help kids find a way to express themselves.
Writing “Justice” took Jones around three months. Working with the illustrator of her book took over a year. She also added advice to readers.
“I wanted the characters to be very specific in the details and so there was a lot of back-and-forth,” Jones said. “Once the project was finished, I felt like different things were needed … what else could I add to the book to make it more tangible and more captivating for an audience and so I added tips at the end.”
Jones earned her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Cal State LA and her master’s in Social Work at Clark Atlanta University. 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 bring awareness. She aims to promote mental health in the Black community. Every Wednesday, she posts writing prompts and every Friday, she features the work of people in the community who uses writing as a coping mechanism.
“I have people who never shared any of their work or any of their mental health experiences being vulnerable saying “I trust you Rasheeda and I trust this will be helpful for me, so I want to share it,”” Jones said
For more information about “Justice” visit tawfiqspublishing.com. “Justice” is also sold on Amazon.com.