ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando author is hoping to set our future generations up well, building self-confidence and belief in themselves through a new book series.
“I was always encouraged and empowered to do what I wanted to do,” author Diante Lawrence said.
Lawrence, born and raised in Orlando, said he didn’t see a lot of diverse children’s books on the shelf when he was a child. So as an adult, he set out to change that.
“A positive imagery for these Black boys to see and for everyone to see,” Lawrence said. “It doesn’t always have to be a struggle, it can be belief.”
Lawrence recently released his new book, “Tae Tae and The Believers.”
“Tae Tae’s on a journey to find the believers. A lot of the images you see are things I wanted to be like a pro wrestler... Of course, what kid doesn’t want to be in the NBA... I wanted to be an astronaut growing up as well,” Lawrence said. “I remember back when I was a kid, seeing the Kennedy Space Center commercials on TV for space camp. I told my mom I wanted to be an Astronaut and go to space camp, but we didn’t have the money to do that.”
Lawrence said the book is based on his own life experiences. The main character, Tae Tae, is a reflection of himself as a child. Several pages in the book include photos of Tae Tae with this parents.
“It shows the confidence and security Tae Tae has that was given to him by his parents. I created this page because this is how I grew up. My parents were always there to support me,” Lawrence said.
But it was during a dark time when Lawrence decided to create this story.
“The genesis of Tae Tae actually happened during George Floyd and going through all the emotions as a Black male seeing this stuff,” Lawrence said.
George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered by a white officer in Minneapolis in 2020, creating outrage within the Black community, prompting protests and calls for change when it came to police brutality.
“I was like ‘Why, in Diante’s world, are people racist?’ In my opinion it’s because of imagery,” Lawrence said. “I told myself I was going to create something that young Black boys can grow up and see a positive imagery of them. In my opinion, in the media and social media, the positive does not outweigh the negative portrayed.”
Lawrence has been visiting schools, bringing student’s into Tae Tae’s world, spreading the message of hope and positivity.
“I don’t just read the book to the students. I like to talk to them about their dreams and see them glowing up and pouring out what they want to be,” Lawrence said. “That’s just the power of this book. When kids see it, they’re like, ‘Wow you have so many dreams.’ And I say ‘Yes, you can have as many dreams as you want and you can achieve every single one of those dreams.’”
Lawrence says it takes a village to help children succeed. And he encourages parents and adults to step up and get involved in the lives of young kids.
“These kids can see it’s more than just your mom and dad. It’s your friends and family, those positive influences. Maybe a stranger or mentor that took you under your wing to help you succeed,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence said he will continue to write books with Tae Tae as the character, inspiring to be a New York Times best-selling author. He also works as a real estate agent in Central Florida.