( ENSPIRE She Did That) Leatutufu Is the Visionary We Were Waiting For
ENSPIRE Contributor: Halima McDoom
Somewhere, a child has already learned the ways of this world. In Palestine, they teach that home has no land, that it never truly belonged to you. Under the copper skies of Ethiopia, in the wake of genocide, the language of survival is mastered without choice. In America, the innocent are shown that safety is something to be earned, never a thing deserved or promised. As empires continue to exchange souls for interim power, a child’s place in this world remains unprotected, and ergo, forgotten. Still, hope emerges as opposed to death. Laneka Leatutufu, a caregiver, mother, author, juvenile probation officer, and sound bath practitioner, is actualizing this hope in the name of liberation. In the name of freeing our children.
Born and raised in The Bay Area, a desire to preserve and uplift BIPOC children marks Laneka’s commitment, especially to Black youth. With the release of her first children’s book, “Ehsan Goes to Paris” Laneka has broadened representation within children’s literature. “EGTP” follows the adventures of its Black protagonist, Ehsan, as he enjoys the luxuries of France; macaroons, visits to the Louvre, a day at Disneyland Paris, and more. “The lack of BIPOC representation is a huge reason for ‘Ehsan Goes to Paris’ because there just isn’t enough or any imagery of black families traveling, exploring, and enjoying the riches of life in mainstream media. I cannot think of any travel adventure books with a black male or black female protagonist having fun and traveling abroad. I want to normalize black children, black love, and families traveling abroad. I want to normalize black males as the main protagonist.”, says Leatutufu.
“EGTP” is exemplary, not only for its normalization of Black joy, but simply because it is an offering of love. We reside in a world where Black death has become more palatable than its vibrant possibility. This reality has stifled, if not, damaged the imaginations of many Black children; It has threatened their very ability to dream, to visualize a world vastly different from the one they inhabit. “I want Black children to read my book and know that their options are limitless. I want them to know that this world is their playground and they are welcome to play and navigate the world as they please…Growing up in the ‘Hood’ myself, I knew that there was a need for youth to see themselves in spaces that were not oppressive or low vibrational.”
As the book garners its rightful attention, Leatutufu’s authoring of “EGTP” is subsequent to, and informed by, her work as a Juvenile Probation Officer. Having spent the first three years of her career as a Juvenile Institutional Officer and Juvenile GPS Officer, Leatutufu has witnessed firsthand the white supremacist, pipeline to prison agenda that has consumed many Black children. “I’d say working in what is already a racist system, gives me the opportunity to hold my organization accountable and support anti-racist ideas to help change racist policies…We’re here to serve the community and sitting at tables to enact change. I think it is important that my organization be culturally responsive and foster racially inclusive environments.” In a world that would rather her look away, Laneka is the visionary that we were waiting for.
The substratum of Leatutufu’s mission is to heal the traumas held by the BIPOC community; traumas that are born from living in a white supremacist, patriarchal capitalist world. As she says, “I work with youth who…live in neighborhoods (and homes) filled with victimization, police brutality, drug paraphernalia, homelessness, poverty, incarceration, sexual exploitation, broken homes, sexual/physical/verbal abuse, toxic relationships, alcohol/drug addiction, crime, shootings, and killings–not to mention systems of oppression; where is the joy?” Her work is truly centered around the fact that Black children deserve joy, but they deserve uncontested freedom. The future of this world very much depends on seeing that through.
MORE FROM LANEKA LEATUTUFU
Laneka Leatutufu has a traveling coloring book set to be released this year. She is currently writing more children’s stories with her son, Ehsan, who will be a co-author for each book.
Leatutufu also facilitates a sound bath meditation that allows people to sit, breathe, and simply be. She’s cultivated and curated this space with the mental and spiritual well-being of BIPOC in mind. “My signature sound bath is called ‘Release that Sh*t because in my opinion, I feel it’s important that we release what’s not serving us. Practicing stillness, taking moments to breathe, release, go within and just being is very necessary. We’re always doing, but what about being?”, says Laneka. She is also offering corporate-based sound baths, as well as private group experiences. Book your first or next session with Leatutufu, here.
“Ehsan Goes to Paris” is available on Amazon, here.
KEEP UP WITH LANEKA
Website: www.Laneka Leatutufu.com
Personal IG: @UrbanPractitioner
Mommy and Ehsan IG: @BrewingWithEhsan