Black History Month Featured Author – Arial Robinson

February is Black History Month; an annual observance started in the USA to bring attention to important historical figures of the African diaspora. This year, Lulu is featuring some self-published authors and their books that touch on issues facing African-Americans.

Today we’re featuring two authors! Our third author in our series is Arial Robinson, author of The Modern Day Black Alphabet, a photobook designed to help children of color learn the alphabet.

The Modern Day Black Alphabet

THIS IS A HARDCOVER BOOK. The Modern Day Black Alphabet is a photo book by Arial Robinson. This book started as a simple photo series to keep Arial occupied while being quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic but now has blossomed into a full book.

Meet The Author

My name is Arial Robinson. I am a junior Multimedia Journalism Student at North Carolina A&T State University originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. Outside of being a full-time student, I am also a Mixed Media Artist & an Author. I love experimenting with different art mediums like acrylic painting, rug tufting, and music production. My favorite and most known medium is my photography. I love taking photos that capture the black experience on an intimate level. I believe that black culture is dynamic and intricate. 

We have so many diverse stories of passion, triumph and courage and those things start in our homes and communities.

I have many interests, but never did I think that I would be an author. My journey began last year in March when my quarantine had just begun. I was at home bored just like everyone else in the world. To keep myself occupied I decided to begin creating. 

I have always loved taking random things around my home and creating new projects with them. This particular time I decided that I want to transform my bedroom into a photography studio and create content. After 10 Installments of Fake Nike Ads, I then proceeded to create my Black ABC’s photo series. 

Updating History

I love scrolling through black archival photos and projects and while I was searching for new inspiration I came across The Black ABCs of 1970 created by The Society of Visual Education in Chicago, Illinois. A group of teachers had come together to transform the ABCs into a digestible medium for black children living in the city of Chicago. I was so inspired by them that I wanted to recreate, but in my own way with my own experiences.

For 14 consecutive days, I shot photos in and around my house with different items that nodded to the black home experience. Our homes are the foundation of our lives & language is the foundation of communication. It was the perfect recipe to bring them both together to tell the black story. So every day I would wake up, shoot the content and post on my Instagram and Twitter. About halfway through the series, it started to pick up a lot of traction. 

People began to ask if I could turn the photo series into a book.

From Creation To Publication

After a lot of research, I learned about Lulu. Lulu was the perfect self-publisher for me because they provided a print-on-demand service. This helped me to put my work out there in a small time frame and with little money. I really appreciated this because I’m a small creator and sometimes it can feel impossible to put out work if you are not rich.

Since its release, The Modern Day Black Alphabet has sold over 2500 copies and is still growing everyday. I hope that by the end of this year I am able to get 10,000 copies out in the world. In my lifetime I hope the book becomes a physical token of black history. I would love to see my book in schools and libraries all across America. 

I believe black children shouldn’t have to wait until they are adults to see themselves represented in not only learning materials but also art, music, media and television. I hope that my work inspires black children to be proud of their experiences and be willing to share them because they are important. Black stories are often lost in translation and silenced. I hope that I am a part of a generation that continues the black conversation and amplifies it.

Finding Art All-Around Us

My newest book is titled Black Hair Care in Color. BHCC is a collection of drawings of black hair care products categorized by their color. Over the past 5 months, I’ve spent my time exploring the products that have shaped black hair over the past few decades and illustrating them. 

Black Hair is art. 

Black Hair Care In Color

Black Hair Care In Color is the second photo book of Arial Robinson. This book of drawings that explores color through hair products. Hair is a big part of black culture. Our hair tells a story and many times speaks for us before we can. Our hair tells stories of passion and courage and strength. A lot of patience, attention and care goes into keeping black hair healthy. As we’ve moved through the years, we’ve learned more about our hair. The products and styles have changed. In this book Arial Robinson explores old and new products and tools that have helped black hair defy gravity and odds. Products in the book are grouped by their color to help children learn. Many products will be familiar to children, and they may even be able to spot them in their own homes. Outside of this book being a great learning material, it also serves as a great coffee table. This book is a great nostalgic piece that explores the products that we all grew up on and the ones that we will use on our children and grandchildren.

It defies gravity and tells stories of perseverance, power, and love. Black Hair speaks all on its own and I wanted to get to the root of it. But I wanted to do it in a way that left a lot of space for conversations and storytelling. We all have different experiences with these products and I wanted to leave room for people to express that.

I hope that my work resonates with people and that when they see them they also can smell, feel and taste the memories that come with them.

Get More From Arial Robinson on her website.

Author Icon for archived authors #4
Arial Robinson

Mixed Media Artist
Author of The Modern Day Black Alphabet
Multimedia Journalism Student
North Carolina A&T State University
@im.arial | @honestari

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