Dr. Artika R. Tyner
- Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
The Inclusive Leader: Taking Intentional Action for Justice and Equity is about developing the leadership skills needed to build inclusive workplaces & communities and advance the betterment of society. The pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusion is a call to action manifested through an exercise of leadership. Over the past decade, I have traveled around the world on this quest of building a more just and inclusive society. I posed the question “What is in your hands to make a difference in the world?” The exploration of this question presents both a challenge and an opportunity. A challenge to roll up our sleeves to pick up the mantle of leadership to make inclusion a lived reality. An opportunity to embrace our moral responsibility to leave the world a better place than we found it.
I chose to write this story to reflect upon my experience of two decades of research and leadership in DEI spaces. I sought to share the lessons that I learned with the goal in mind of inspiring others to lead change. I introduced my Leadership Framework for Action™ as a guide on this learning journey:
- Intrapersonal (engaging in self-discovery)
- Interpersonal (building an authentic relationship with others)
- Organizational (establishing strategic outcomes and promoting equity)
- Societal (developing sustainable, durable solutions)
- Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
My writing process is a daily practice. I engage in reflective writing and writing prompts. My reflective writing focuses on gratitude. What am I grateful for each day? It reminds me of the gift that I have to write, inspire, and motivate others to join me in building new inroads to justice and freedom.
I create my own writing prompts on topics like “What is justice?” How can we build the beloved community? These writing exercises keep me in the frame of mind of critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and strategic action. I remind my students of my 90/10 rule. 90 percent of social change is preparation and 10 percent is implementation. These writing prompts help me to prepare for when windows of opportunity emerge where I can advance sustainable change and societal reform.
These initial steps in my writing process help to prepare me to work on my books and write my poetry. I call them “my warm-ups.”
- Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
The writers who have influenced me are Toni Morrison and Dr. W.E.B. Dubois. My senior seminar class in college focused on Morrison’s writings. I was inspired by her ability to explore complex and intricate social issues through her books. For example, The Bluest Eye sheds light on how White Supremacy shapes the very essence of beauty and diminishes one’s self-worth, while Beloved explores the dimensions of a mother’s love and her unwavering resistance to the bondage of slavery. Like Morrison, my writings explore culture, identity, and heritage.
Dr. W.E.B. Dubois shared his prophetic voice with the world in his work entitled: “The Souls of Black Folk.” His writings helped to build the framework of Pan-Africanism. He had a vision of a society built upon our shared humanity and common destiny. He wrote about this vision until his passing at the age of ninety-five years old. Like Dubois, my writings focus on chronicling the history of the Black experience and preserving our cultural history across the African Diaspora. This is also my life’s calling and daily mission.
- What inspired you to start writing? What is your favorite place to go for inspiration and/or your favorite place to write?
I was inspired to start writing because of the nation’s reading crisis and lack of diversity in books. This is personal and important to me because as a civil rights attorney many of my clients learned how to read while in prison. This is unacceptable but somehow, we created a RULE OF 4:
- 1 in 4 American children are not reading at grade level by 4th grade
- If you are not reading at grade level by 4th grade, you are 4 times more likely to drop out of school
- Here is the connection, you are also three and a half times more likely to be arrested during your lifetime. This is unacceptable. Yet, this is an opportunity for change. My goal is to create new pipelines for the future and work to end mass incarceration.
- You are more likely to see a black dog or black bear on the cover of a book than a Black girl or Black boy. Representation matters. It helps to create both mirrors and windows. Mirrors for young people of color to see a positive representation of themselves on the pages of books. In addition, for all children—we can create windows that help foster connections across cultures.
- When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
When I am not writing, I enjoy traveling. My dream is to visit every country in the continent of Africa. Thus far, I have visited Tanzania, Ghana, and South Africa. I have 51 more countries to go to.
- Favorite place to go to in Minnesota?
My favorite place to visit is the Science Museum of Minnesota. It is filled with opportunities to explore, learn, and grow. My first job was at the Science Museum of Minnesota. When I was thirteen years old, I became a lab partner. I worked at the SMM for over two decades in various roles from research to exhibit development.
- Where can readers find you online?