The inaugural honoree of Brainy Black Girl of the Week is Dr. Irene Okoronkwo-Obika. She’s a mental health professional in the Dallas, Texas area who is primarily concerned with the self-esteem and mental well-being of black folks from across the Diaspora. Dr. Okoronkwo-Obika noticed that there were very limited resources available for combating bullying in the greater black community. Her new book, Chisom the Champ Meets the World speaks to the challenges of being perceived as different from the perspective of a little Nigerian boy. I sat down with Dr. Okoronkwo-Obika last week. Here’s the transcript of the interview:
BBG: Your new book, Chisom the Champ Meets the World, what made you write it?
Dr. Okoronkwo-Obika: I was inspired after I had my son, Chisom. It made me realize the importance of self-love at an early age.
BBG: What has the response been so far to your book?
Dr. Okoronkwo-Obika: Overwhelmingly positive. The topic of bullying is a universal story that almost everyone has gone through, no matter their race, sexual identity and religious affiliation.
BBG: Why was it important to you to make the main character of the book a little Nigerian boy?
Dr. Okoronkwo-Obika: I thought it was important because I was a young Nigerian girl growing up in New Orleans with self-esteem issues. And I didn’t have characters seen on television, movies, and in the media that reflected my identity issues. There is such poor imagery of people of color in the media. With my son being a young Nigerian boy, I wanted him to have a character that he could see himself in.
BBG: Who is the target audience for CTC:?
Dr. Okoronkwo-Obika: Any person who struggles with identity issues and anyone who has been bullied.
BBG: Where do you see the CTC brand going in the future?
Dr. Okoronkwo-Obika: CTC is an edutainment company that provides products to children to aid in increasing their self-esteem. We’re currently working with a team of animators to make the Chisom character come to life on the screen through cartoons and movies.
BBG: How do your clients access your products?
A: Well the book, Chisom the Champ, is available on the company website, www.chisomthechamp.com and Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Books A Million, and most major bookstores and libraries nationwide. October is National Bullying Prevention Month, so in that month I’ll have different events coming up.
BBG: What advice would you give the younger version of yourself?
Dr. Okoronkwo-Obika: Embrace entrepreneurship at an early age. Learn everything you can about business, money, business, stocks, and avoiding unnecessary debt.