Written by Ariyanna Norman
Police brutality isn’t quite as much of a hot topic in the mainstream media as it was several months ago, however it’s something our community is always cognizant of. One man from Phoenix decided to address this issue and other problems that affect Black youth in a book titled A Survival Guide for Black Boys in America. Ishmael Smith, the author of the book, also released a matching coloring book for younger Black children who have not learned to read yet.
“It’s basically an awareness book for youth of color… or any youth could benefit from this book,” said Smith. The book teaches young people how to stay away from risky or dangerous situations. Topics include avoiding alcohol and drug abuse, how to conduct yourself during encounters with law enforcement, and discouraging violence. He says the goal is to teach our youth how to lead successful lives and to not end up behind bars or dead.
“I have young children and I wanted to make sure that they were prepared for the world that we’re living in,” said Smith. He also has friends who are incarcerated and their kids don’t have father figures. Smith wrote the guide with them in mind as well.
Smith described a scenario where following the advice in his book may have saved his life. A police officer detained him for not driving a vehicle with an ignition interlock device. The officer told him that he had committed a felony, handcuffed him, and put him in the back of his police cruiser. “…when he pulled the cuffs out, I could have ran. I could have got frightened, I could have tried to fight. You know, I could have possibly had some confrontation or been shot by the police officer….”
While Smith was in the back of the cruiser, the officer read his instruction manual and realized the offense was only a misdemeanor and not a felony. Instead of being taken to jail, the officer wrote Smith a ticket and towed his vehicle. The charges ended up being dismissed in court.
While the book addresses police misconduct, it also has chapters that are meant to discourage black on black crime. Chapter one encourages self-love and love for the Black community while chapter two discusses the “Golden Rule” and discourages bullying. The hope is that practicing these fundamentals will decrease crime within our communities.
As a product of the Roosevelt School District, Smith’s next step is to get the book into school libraries in that district.
“We do really believe this is a life-saving book and our children will be well ahead of the curve in life by following the principles in this book here” says Smith.
Smith is a part of The Black Fog Foundation, which is the company that published the book. BFF consists of a council whose mission is to support and uplift Black youth. The book is only the first venture. Other programs will include a camp for black boys and a beauty pageant for black girls. Visit their website to learn more about the book and the organization: