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San Griffin: “I wish someone had told me a healthier diet meant more clarity”

I had several parents at my virtual launch party for the book Black Hair Love for Preschoolers express that their children needed my book because they didn’t have images that look like them in their books and puzzles. These particular children were very dark skinned in complexion, a hue you don’t see represented often with […]

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I had several parents at my virtual launch party for the book Black Hair Love for Preschoolers express that their children needed my book because they didn’t have images that look like them in their books and puzzles. These particular children were very dark skinned in complexion, a hue you don’t see represented often with afro hair in literature. The parents stated they already see colorism negatively impacting their children. Upon following up with them, I was so thrilled to hear my book was a favorite and the children really enjoyed the picture book that provides an array of beautiful skin hues and hair textures.


As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing San Griffin, a skilled professional in child development and family relations with over 15 years of dedicated experience. Black Hair Love is her second book, and first poetry anthology, which she plans to follow with more titles that empower, inspire and powerfully impact readers of all ages. Her first book is the Amazon bestseller, The Superheroes’ Guide to Dominating Their Universe. As CEO of Aggrandize Your Life, LLC, her goal is to provide tangible and intangible transformative tools and resources through the literature and workshops she creates. San earned both a bachelor’s degree in child development and family relations and a master’s degree in human development from North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C., where she lives with her husband, Milton, and three sons.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

My story begins like many. I was born to a single-parent mother in a low-income North Carolina neighborhood. My parents eventually married when I was 14 years old. However, the years before their union were vital to my growth and development. My maternal and paternal grandmothers were instrumental in my rearing by imparting love, nurturing environments, and creative moments for me to thrive.

My work ethic developed watching my mother. She worked two — sometimes three — jobs, if you count the paper routes we all pitched in to do or the multi-level marketing gigs she did on occasions, just to make ends meet. Eventually, her hard work provided us the opportunity to leave the deteriorating neighborhood and move to a safer place.

Unfortunately, I experienced the biases and racial tensions that come with being a young dark-skinned black girl in the south beginning at a very young age. I always enjoyed writing and journaling as young as I can remember. However, it became my therapeutic outlet; helping me reason with what was going on in my home, my neighborhood, and the world at large.

My parents opened a small boutique when I was a teenager and passed the zest for entrepreneurship to their children. I am so grateful for the experience and memories I gained during that time.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

In elementary school, I remember reading the book, The Little Engine that Could, I still remember my teacher reading I think I can, I think I can, and the train gaining more momentum when he thought I know I can, I know I can. Those powerful words stuck with me! I remember being on the playground at recess, racing and trying new things with the thought I know I can, I know I can be #1 at this.

In middle school, my favorite book was “Are you there God? It’s me Margaret’’. This book was so spot on, discussing what a young girl goes through and feels during puberty, it was like my sacred book. I remember reading the author’s bio and wondering how she embodied my feelings, because every topic and emotion I was experiencing during puberty was captured. I realized then how books can help affirm one’s identity and self-worth.

In high school, my mom handed me a book called, Think and Grow Rich! I still have it on my bookshelf. This book changed the trajectory of my life. My thoughts were elevated to another level because this book encouraged leadership characteristics, entrepreneurship and positive thinking.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

As an author, the most interesting mistake I made was listening to a book publishing consultant who told me it would take more time to finish my book and that I should change the name of my brand. I quickly learned that your passion project is your responsibility to nourish and bring to fruition. Others may not understand your burning desire and your why; therefore, it’s okay to network and meet other professionals in your industry to connect with the perfect match to bring your vision to life in the intended season.

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

My goals for my books Black Hair Love, Black Hair Love for Preschoolers, and Black Hair Love for Teens and Up are to provide transformative literature that affirms all black peoples’ hair is beautiful hair and to normalize black peoples’ hair early before negative biases settle into young people’s minds. Readers will come to understand black hair is lovely in its natural state, in a protective style such as braids, or an ancient style such as locs. However, these sentiments are underrepresented in literature, especially in early-learning literature when youth are discovering their place and identity in the world. My books will disrupt misinformation and missing information regarding our hair, traditions, and cultural practices. Also, readers will come to understand black peoples’ hair, reframing it, as readers see awesome imagery and positive words associated with black peoples’ hair. Unfortunately, for centuries, Black hair has received negative press, negative propaganda, and negative caricatures that have served to denigrate black people. Words such as “rude,” “knotty,” “nappy,” “bad,” “unmanageable,” unprofessional are so often associated with black peoples’ hair. Consequently, Black Hair Love books will nurture positive imagery and share Black voices in the literary world. In fact, current events surrounding hair discrimination confirm this work is needed. Some states and cities are introducing legislation, such as the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act (the CROWN Act), in California to prevent employers from discriminating against black people because of their natural hair or cultural styles. My city, Durham, NC, has passed an ordinance to prevent employers from discriminating against black people regarding their natural hair and protective styles too. Needless to say, the social impact will be tremendous and encourage confidence, acceptance, and love for generations to come. Most importantly, providing resources for black children and families to see hair that looks like theirs in a loving, beautiful light, as well as people from other cultures to see black peoples’ hair in a positive way, will help them create paradigm shifts and prevent biases against themselves and others.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

Wow, I have so many. Each poem has an interesting story behind it in the latter two books. In the poem titled “You Are the Dream,” the stanzas read, “The tighter the knot, the closer the thought, your genes are connected to the richest continent on the earth.” These are thoughts I had as a student in elementary and middle schools. Sometimes, other children would be so mean and rude and call others names because of the type of hair texture they had. I really thought as a child that if you didn’t have the silky, straight locks or big, bouncing curls, you received unwarranted insults. Actually, Africa is the continent from which our people came and it is still the most resource-rich continent. Our strong, thick, unique hair is too a precious resource. One of my favorite speakers, Les Brown, said this recently, “Afro hair is the only hair that defies gravity.” As a student, I always wondered why people could not embrace differences like hair and celebrate them. I hope black readers feel celebrated and other cultures gain a newfound respect for black peoples’ hair as they read traditions, thoughts, and memories we hold dear.

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

My “aha moment” was years in the making. I have three sons, and they all have different textures of hair. The youngest two would get out of school and the discussions would often be about girls giving one of them compliments like, “He has good hair.” My other son would just listen to his brother always proclaim that people stated he had “good hair”; and while he didn’t seem bothered, it bothered me. I didn’t want my other son’s confidence damaged because I know how rude children can be in school, so I would chime in and say all black hair is good hair. When I would go to salons to get my hair done, the stylist would tell me I have “good hair,” and then I would see someone with thicker, tighter coils enter the salon; some stylist would become upset or frown at their hair. Needless to say, the “good hair” versus “bad hair” discussion is common in our community and homes. However, I personally have never seen a book that affirms all black peoples’ hair is good hair and celebrates our roots and traditions for all ages to enjoy.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I had several parents at my virtual launch party for the book Black Hair Love for Preschoolers express that their children needed my book because they didn’t have images that look like them in their books and puzzles. These particular children were very dark skinned in complexion, a hue you don’t see represented often with afro hair in literature. The parents stated they already see colorism negatively impacting their children. Upon following up with them, I was so thrilled to hear my book was a favorite and the children really enjoyed the picture book that provides an array of beautiful skin hues and hair textures.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Community members can become a sponsor and give my books to different programs serving under resourced constituents, day cares, book clubs, and schools to start dialogues about embracing their crowns and fostering a love and respect for black peoples’ hair. Community members can also request my books in their local libraries.

Society can continue to evolve and include more diverse perspectives on larger platforms, and to foster a more well-rounded view of the world and all the beautiful people who inhabit it. Black Hair Love books need more visibility to be more impactful, and society can offer a variety of platforms.

Politicians can educate themselves regarding legislation such as US Congress’s H.R. 5309, the CROWN Act. Politicians can provide resources like my books to advocate for the legislation. My books address the root of hair discrimination because the biases are formed early due to the lack of representation and misinformation perpetuated over time.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership simply means guidance. For example, leaders use carefully chosen words and images to guide one’s thoughts, be they good or bad.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

I wish someone had told me a healthier diet meant more clarity. When I would do intermittent fasting, and eat more nutritionally, I would have better clarity and energy to work on my manuscript.

I wish someone had told me to download any shared files immediately as my own file. Unfortunately, I lost the video recordings of my publishing consultant and me critiquing the book and designing the book covers because I didn’t download and save the digital file when it was shared with me. They ended up removing the file without consulting with me first.

I wish someone had told me how to blog and cultivate my audience before the book launched. I am currently building this area, and I wish I’d spent more time engaging supporters and potential readers before the books launched.

I wish someone had told me to set up a mailing list before I launched the books. The mailing list is a wonderful way to stay connected with fans and share information about book signings and other events.

I wish someone had told me a clear path to marketing my book as an indie author. I know everyone’s journey is different; however, it would be awesome to have a more outlined approach to reaching your goals.

Can you please give us your favorite ”Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have a plethora of favorite life lesson quotes, although, this is one relevant for the occasion. The late, great Pulitzer Prize–winning author Toni Morrison was being interviewed, and she said something that’s remained stuck to me like white lint on a black sweater. She said if there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. I wish I’d had books like Black Hair Love when I was growing up. I remember stories about Goldilocks and Snow White and many other stories that didn’t have characters that look like me or the people in my community.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have a private dinner with Ava DuVernay, Tyler Perry, or Will Packer. I would love to see Black Hair Love on the big screen with the words brought to life in a phenomenal light for the world to recognize.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My website and blog can be found at www.blackhairlove.info

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


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