Photo credits: Toronto Star
A black mother and daughter were recently profiled on a national Canadian news show called Metro Morning and discussed an unfortunate situation the daughter experienced at school 28 years ago.
The daughter’s name is Lauren Reyes-Grange. The mother’s name is Cynthia Reyes. Lauren was only four years of age at the time of this adverse incident of racism at school. It inspired her mother, Cynthia, to write a recently published children’s book called Myrtle the Turtle (affiliate). Weaverback Press released the book in October of 2017.
Cynthia is an experienced author who used to work as a journalist and executive producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Her and her daughter Lauren spoke with Metro Morning reporter Makda Ghebreslassie about how and why Myrtle the Turtle was inspired.
When Lauren was a little girl, she liked to take her black male Cabbage Patch doll named Quentin to school with her. However, other children would make fun of her and call her doll racial slurs because of his dark skin color.
“A group of children said they didn’t want to play with me if I had Quentin with me because Quentin was dirty. I knew I looked different from the other kids in the class but I never really thought that much about it until that day,” Lauren told CBC News.
Lauren’s parents noticed that their daughter stopped taking her Cabbage Patch doll to school. When her mother Cynthia found out why, she was devastated. “It was painful. We had deliberately done a number of things to make our kids feel proud in being who they are and in being black,” Cynthia told CBC News.
And thus, the idea to write her children’s book was born. “Myrtle is a young turtle who has never thought anything of the fact that she’s purple until another turtle bumps into her and refuses to believe that she’s even a turtle because she’s purple,” Cynthia also told CBC News.
Cynthia’s book has gotten some incredible reviews from satisfied readers on Amazon.com. “[Myrtle the Turtle] is a heart-warming story about what it is to feel different, how we try to change to fit in, and ultimately that our differences make us special,” one reader wrote in their review.