Breaking down barriers – a guest post from Stephanie Taylor - Nosy Crow Skip to content
Posted by Xeni, September 10, 2023

Breaking down barriers – a guest post from Stephanie Taylor

This month we’re absolutely delighted to have published I’m Going to Be a Princess – a warm and witty celebration of the lives of amazing Black women, written by Stephanie Taylor & illustrated by Jade Orlando. And today, we’re very excited to be sharing a guest post from Stephanie!

As a child the images of children of colour in the books I had access to were never very positive. There were no stories or history books that I saw myself in. Even when my children were small, I asked my sister, who was living in America, to send books for them to read and explore.

Now, though, I’m proud that the awesome Black women in my book, I’m Going To Be a Princess, prove that we have always broken down barriers. I wanted young readers to see that they can achieve anything.

What made you pick the Black women featured in I’m Going to be a Princess?

Alexa Irene Canady, MD

I included Alexa because so many people told her she could never be a neurosurgeon. But she persisted, succeeded, and encouraged others. Amazing!

 

Alexa fell in love with medicine at a summer school and in 1981, she was the first Black woman neurosurgeon in the United States. She became the Chief of Neurosurgery at Michigan Children’s Hospital, caring for young patients with life-threatening illnesses.

Alexa says: “The greatest challenge I faced in becoming a neurosurgeon was believing it was possible.”

Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland had to be a part of my book. She became the American Ballet Theatre’s first African American principal dancer in the company’s 75-year history. Seeing her dance, I was awestruck.

 

Misty started ballet very late, at 13 years old. Teachers said she had the wrong body shape and would never become a ballerina. She never ever gave up and fulfilled her dreams. Misty wrote a picture book called Firebird to inspire other dancers of colour.

Alice Coachman

I included Alice because she proved that anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself. Women were not encouraged to take part in sport – in fact, even Alice’s father tried to stop her. She wasn’t allowed to train with white athletes, so Alice trained alone running barefoot on dusty roads, using sticks and rope to practice the high jump.

In August 1948, Alice competed in the Olympic high jump. She jumped 5 feet 6 1/8-inch and won. She was the first Black woman to do so. King George VI of Great Britain gave her the Olympic gold medal.

Annie Easley

Annie’s mum encouraged her so much, always saying ‘As long you work for anything, you can do it!’. And that is why I wanted her to be a part of the book. All of us must support our children’s ambitions.

Annie applied for a mathematician post at NASA in 1955. She got the job as a “human computer.” Annie worked out difficult maths problems so that astronaut John Glenn could orbit space in 1962 and for the Centaur booster rocket, launched in 1963. Annie made time to tutor younger students and helped in training African Americans to take the voting test.

 

Queen Amina

Queen Amina is the heroine of my story because in her time, women were not equal to men. It’s so important for young girls to know they can do anything they set their heart and mind too! We may not agree with all of her decisions today, but she was an amazing woman who lived for her people.

Born around 1533 in Zaria, Princess Aminatu trained with the army and became a skilled warrior. As queen, to protect her people, she built strong walls called Ganuwar Aminatu or ‘Aminatu’s walls’ around her cities. There are still lots of Ganuwar Aminatu today and in Lagos, Nigeria there is a statue of Aminatu on her horse. Stories of her life have been passed down through history – a Nigerian tradition.

 

Thank you, Stephanie!

 

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