Marsha Guerrier, 47, grew up reading books by Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, two authors who profoundly influenced her reading habits and inspired her to think about how she could tell her story in the same way.
She was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Haitian immigrant parents and a cultured Haitian family. Her parents worked hard and fought hard to keep themselves gainfully employed in the nation, and her upbringing was very much what her parents taught her, which was how to work hard, get an education, and get a job. As she grew older, she realized how essential representation was as a Black woman who had started working in corporate offices as a teenager before moving on to New York Empire State College to acquire a bachelor’s degree in business management and economics.
“They taught me all the things that I needed to live a life at work and how to work hard, how to get an education, stay in school and climb up and you work hard and reap the rewards of that, and yet I did all of those things and yet it doesn’t seem to work out that way in our favor especially as Black women inside corporate America,” she expressed.
Guerrier started writing to assist and support women. She encouraged them to prepare themselves or recognize themselves in other women who are reaching the same goals they are.
“I started with sharing small stories and other people’s analogies and wanting to just share advice on things to help women advance in their career and things that I am doing as an entrepreneur to grow my business, and that developed into an additional book that I produced to help other women share their voices as well. And so I thought to myself if I can hear and read the stories of other women sharing their journey, I certainly could do that for myself to become a published author,” said Guerrier.
“Life Balance for Women on the Rise” was her first book, which she wrote and published. Her book was mostly inspired by the women she worked with and her own personal experiences. After struggling to juggle and balance all of the major elements of her life during early years as an entrepreneur, she collected a group of seven women she deemed experts in areas she believed other women should be aware of to help her write her book in 2017.
Guerrier, who has a busy schedule, had free time in 2020 after the pandemic hit. She spent it with her 6-year-old son Joshua Guerrier. Joshua, according to Marsha, is a very creative and expressive child. Before the pandemic she was actively involved in helping kids in her community of Nassau county through her nonprofit foundation by reading and giving out books to them.
“We started with the nonprofit giving out books about kindness, so I would read and hand out books to classrooms in the Nassau area. Then it dawned on me that most of the books that we were handing out were predominantly Caucasian families and kids and I really wanted to have stories that represent not only myself but the kids in the underrepresented communities through my program,” she said.
During COVID, she told her son about her plan to write a children’s book, and to her surprise, he indicated interest in being a part of the writing and publication process. Joshua had been challenged to be a stronger leader after helping to edit the book that she had co-authored with him, “Just as I Am Kindness.” She hopes that the book’s impact on other children encourages them to be friendly to individuals who don’t look like them. And it begins with them realizing that they, too, could see themselves in the books and/or as the characters who are expressing kindness.
Marsha discussed the importance of the book, stating that the country’s political landscape, as well as her experience living in Nassau, New York, where she witnessed the divide, the racial injustice and all of the unrest in the press and media, had prompted her to advocate for representation for Black and Brown children. She expressed her understanding that, while Joshua was unaware of it, she wanted to educate him on what was going on in the world with social justice and the traits he’d need to overcome obstacles.
“I see my son in every child, I see his innocence, I see their innocence. In the last couple of years we seem to have been living in a world where it doesn’t seem to be as kind as I remember. I just wanted to make sure my footprint and the legacy that I am leaving and what I am instilling in him right now will reverse some of the things that I feel are happening around us in order to make sure that he will grow up with the type of moral compass that I think our kids need to see or really strive for in the world that we have been living in in the last few years.”
She stated that she intends to work with her son in the future to develop concepts for new children’s books geared at Black and Brown children. She highlighted the need for representation at all levels, at every age, and in every field. She wants to see Black and Brown children represented in books with wonderful moral stories since her son and other children are at a critical age in their life where they are creating opinions about the world.