Keri Mosuro on Vashti Harrison
Hi, my name is Keri Mosuro. I am a member of OV Theatre Makers and I’m doing my Black History Month profile on Vashti Harrison.
Vashti is a 32-year-old writer, illustrator and filmmaker from Brooklyn. Her dad is African American and her mum is from Trinidad and Tobago of Indian descent and I first came across Vashti with her book, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, and what first struck me about this book is the illustrations. I think they’re just so joyful and whimsical and if you look at her Instagram or look at her other books and her art prints, they all have this feel to them – they’re just very, very happy and cute and when I was researching Vashti she said the reason that she chose to illustrate like this was because she wanted to challenge implicit biases against Black girls.
So when researching for this book she found that in the Georgetown Law Center, their study concluded that Black girls were perceived as more adult-like and less innocent than their white counterparts, and this was girls as young as five, and the study found that adults thought the Black girls needed less nurturing, less comforting, less support and less protection. And Vashti, across all of her books, in all of her illustrations, she wanted to remind people that Black girls are innocent and they deserve love, they deserve care and that’s why she draws them so cute and cuddly and why she draws them with their eyes closed just to represent innocence, and I think that’s so inspiring.
It’s such a beautiful sentiment and if you look at her art prints, if you look at all her other work, you can definitely see that. So some of her other books, she’s got one similar to this, so it’s Exceptional Men in Black History, she’s got Visionary Women Around the World, she’s got a beautiful book called Hair Love and she recently illustrated Lupita Nyong’s book, and her work is just amazing. It’s really joyful and I think everyone should go and see it.