Imagine attending a prestigious school at a young age and suddenly finding out that you’re one of only a few Black students, not just in the classroom, but the entire school. It’s reasonable to assume that anyone would try to do whatever it takes to fit in, but what happens when you realize years later that you’ve actually lost part of yourself and that part represents your racial identity?
Danielle Prescod found that pieces of her were slowly fading away while growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood. Her situation was further impacted by each whitewashed film and TV show she watched with her classmates. The result was a slow, steady disconnect from her roots.
When Prescod began her journey as a published author, never in her wildest dreams did she think she would venture into penning her personal story as a memoir. “I've loved books my whole life. I never thought that I would write a nonfiction book,” she told BET.com about Token Black Girl: A Memoir, her new book published by Little A (the nonfiction imprint of Amazon Publishing), which uses storytelling to highlight the necessity of inclusion and representation.
The book has built quite a buzz on social media since its debut last October. Now, the former editor and content creator is basking in its success as her first book charted at the top of both the Best Sellers and Editor’s Pick lists on Amazon.com.
RELATED | Trailblazing Black Women Making History
“It’s really exciting!” Prescod shares with enthusiasm at just the thought of being amongst the Obamas (Barack Obama's A Promised Land and Michelle Obama's Becoming) on Amazon’s lists. And also receiving high praises from actress and New York Times bestselling author Gabrielle Union. “The writing process took a whole year, and everything else [feels like] it took like a lifetime to come together.”
According to Prescod, Token Black Girl isn’t exactly an unfamiliar story, but one that has a unique outcome. She describes her experiences in the book as an archetype created by the white upper-class society to protect themselves from being labeled as "racist."
Prescod reminds us of another figure who endured a similar situation in that of Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to desegregate William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the desegregation crisis in 1960. “At six years old, she made a very public spectacle, not only as a political statement but also about what she deserves, what she has access to, and what that means,” notes Prescod.
“Token Black Girl is a lot about how things get projected onto you, what you accept, and what role you feel is being assigned to you— even if it's not one you're choosing; like a position of submission.”
Prescod is hopeful that her book will bring a new awareness to the moniker (Token Black Girl) by reclaiming its meaning and ultimately empower those who read her memoir. “I'm hoping that people realize how much power is in that and that they have more agency than they might realize,” Prescod explains.
The NYU alum’s activism goes beyond just telling her story. She’s also adamant about changing the media landscape to be more inclusive of all people and ensuring brands meet the same standard of diversity. And while substantial changes are being made in these industries, she insists the journey is far from over. It’s the reason why Prescod started her company, 2BG Consulting, to help mitigate these issues by training many fashion, beauty and entertainment companies on how to become anti-racist.
“There are white people who truly don't interact with people of color in their everyday lives. That’s not normal,” said Prescod. “It is very irresponsible for movies and television shows to project that as normal because it's not."
To learn more about Danielle Prescod and learn how she suggests improving diversity in the future, purchase her book “Token Black Girl” on Amazon.com.
*Editor’s Note: This story has been edited and condensed for clarity.