PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Taimani Reed’s illustrated poster collection, called “A is for Ally,” hopes to support adults that are trying to talk about racism with young children.
“This is ‘A is for Ally,’ a print I designed for early childhood education about anti-racism and kindness,” Reed said, as she raised up her poster into the studio spotlight at Portland Productions. “My goal with this…. the thing I wanted was to be able to talk about this difficult conversation but not be harsh.”
Reed is a mother of two young boys and says she understands that racism can be a difficult topic to discuss with kids, so she’s using her art to help.
“I know for me, it was kinda just like I’m sitting on the couch and I’m bawling because of George Floyd is yelling ‘Mama’ and my kid he just said, ‘What’s wrong mama?'” Reed said. “I just felt this intense need to talk to him and explain to him what’s going on, but in a way that doesn’t scare him.”
Reed says she reached out to other mothers to ask how they were going about have the conversation with their children.
“Basically everybody, including myself, was at a complete loss and I’ve always been able to really express myself through my art, so I was like I can so my kids a pretty picture and connect it to these words and then find a way to define them really simply,” she said.
Reed created the first piece of the collection, the “A is for Ally” ABC’s poster, which includes illustrations for terms ranging from “D for Diversity” to “R for Race.'”
“It was actually a really, really involved process… I worked with other BIPOC families to help me pick words that we felt were important to explain and include,” Reed said. “It [The poster] led me to be able to talk to 3-year-olds and 5-year-olds — we’ve even had customers honestly all the way up to 60 who are using this as a tool to learn and relearn about racism.”
The collection also caught the attention of Lillian Green, a former teacher and founder of “Operation Back to School,” a program started in honor of Green’s sister and late teacher, Kim Green Ellsworth, that donates backpacks and school supplies to students in need. This year, Green plans to include the “A is for Ally” poster in 400 backpacks being donated to local preschoolers.
“I was seeing glimpses of them [posters] online and I was just like, ‘Hey, out of 2,000 backpacks, 400 of them will be preschool backpacks. Would you be willing to sponsor some of your posters from our backpacks?’ and then from there it just took off,” Green said. “These posters help start the conversation and really remind us that children are never too young to learn about social justice. I just think it’s going to be an amazing addition.”
In addition, Reed says her posters have been sponsored to be placed in three local schools. She says she hopes to soon have the “A is for Ally” collection shared in libraries, as well.
“I’m always saying that we can change the world if we change the way we raise our kids and it’s just amazing to me that people are using my tools and my art to do that,” Reed said.
Reed added that she is also working on a children’s book based off of the”A is for Ally” poster collection, and hopes to have that available for pre-order by the end of the month.
To view Reed’s “A is for Ally” collection, visit EmeraldCreative.org.