Bernardo Romero presents The ABC's of Survival
By Alixandra Rutnik on Feb 11, 2021
One Club Member designs a book to address "The Talk" for BIPOC youth
The fallout of last year's deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others opened many people's eyes to the realities that Blacks and other people of color navigate just to get through another day. One Club Member and Chief Creative Officer at The Bloc Bernardo Romero is helping to further raise awareness of that stark reality with the creation of The ABC’s of Survival, a new book that addresses “the talk” that BIPOC parents and guardians have with their children.
The ABC’s of Survival is filled with tough lessons, DIY postcards, and beautiful art and typography, all by BIPOC artists. This book should not exist, yet it does.
We talked to Bernardo Romero to learn more about this unique and essential initiative that is set to debut in a couple of weeks, at the conclusion of Black History Month.
This book is designed as a “survival guide” for BIPOC youth. “A book that shouldn’t exist.” Yet, it does. Can you elaborate on the meaning behind this tagline and the reason why you felt it vital to publish such a book?
The ABC’s of Survival is a book eight months in the making born from the minds of parents Shamel and Tiffany Washington in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. It’s an alphabet of lessons about “The Talk” Black parents have with their children in order to survive— lessons Shamel and Tiffany have had to teach their daughter, Bria. These are lessons that no child should have to learn, that no parent should have to teach, but do because of the harsh realities of systemic racism and police brutality in the US. “The book that shouldn’t exist” is a symbol for “the talk” that shouldn’t exist.
"These are lessons that no child should have to learn, that no parent should have to teach, but do because of the harsh realities of systemic racism and police brutality in the US."
How does each letter of the alphabet encompass “the talk?”
The book is an alphabet of survival lessons, from A to Z from being aware of your surroundings, to knowing how to comply when interacting with the police, to recognizing the power of protest, and to living a life full of zeal. The letters and lessons balance the harsh realities that BIPOC youth face in America, with a hopeful tone for the future.
"While many young children are learning their ABC’s and how to share, BIPOC youth are also learning how to act if the police stop them on their way home from school."
We wanted the book to be accessible at almost any age — for children and adults. While many young children are learning their ABC’s and how to share, BIPOC youth are also learning how to act if the police stop them on their way home from school. The ABC’s of Survival brings to life this juxtaposition in youth education and puts critical elements of “the talk” down on paper.
This book has a workbook-esqe element to it – protest posters and postcards to rip out and send to congress. Why did you decide to include these pages in the book?
To help spark change in communities around the country, we designed the second half of the book to be torn apart so that families can take action. Shamel and Tiffany had the idea that this section of the book will allow families to literally rip out the pages on a topic they wish did not exist. It’s both a symbol and an action item.
The protest posters and postcards are all designed by Black students, Black parents, and Black artists. The postcards come pre-stamped with stamps for Black History Month that feature famous Black leaders, thinkers, and change-makers throughout history. These postcards come folded, with space on the inside to write a message to the House of Representatives and the Senate.
There are accompanying QR codes that, when scanned, pull up the address list so families can easily find their local congressperson and mail a card to make changes in their area. Reading the lessons in this book isn’t enough on its own—the conversations and change that it sparks are just as important.
"Shamel and Tiffany had the idea that this section of the book will allow families to literally rip out the pages on a topic they wish did not exist."
We’re excited that this book will officially be available at the end of the month! What are three of the most important things we should know about its contents?
1. This book was sparked by “The Talk” between parents Shamel and Tiffany Washington and their daughter, and by the tough but necessary conversations that happened after the murder of George Floyd.
2. Every aspect of the ABC’s of Survival was intentionally crafted and curated. It contains entirely original works of art from BIPOC artists around the world.
3. The ABC’s of Survival is made in partnership with The National Black Child Development Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on the health, wellbeing, and positive future for Black children in America.
Are you thinking about expanding this initiative in the future?
The book is not the beginning, middle, or end of this initiative. It is a symbol of the ongoing systemic racism in this country. We’ve expanded on the project with a curated weekly virtual art gallery (desktop only) that celebrates Black artists around the world, including artwork from the book.
We’ll also be sending 100 premium, hand-crafted copies of the book out into the world at the end of the month. Those first 100 copies will go out to teachers, parents, and change-makers in the BIPOC community.
You can see more of the book on Instagram where we’re launching a letter per day throughout Black History Month.
How can one get a copy?
A fully digital version of the book will be available one month from now, so anyone can download it and share it with their loved ones. In late March, additional physical copies will be made available to a larger group. Pre-orders for both digital and hard copies will open in three weeks here and all the proceeds will go directly to the nonprofit organization, the National Black Child Development Institute.
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