With police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement and social justice issues occupying center stage across the nation, one segment of the population is often overlooked, despite being the most heavily impacted. The youth. That is why Tyrell Zimmerman is helping parents to educate their children on how to navigate the present realities of society in a unique way, with his new book “Carter: My Dream, My Reality.”
“The book is centered on urban violence and trauma, childhood PTSD and mental health,” said Zimmerman, an educator and financial professional who has worked for top companies like Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. “It’s about a little black boy named Carter that is afraid to go to school and chase his dreams because of the realities in society. He sees crime, police brutality, pain and suffering.”
The forward for Zimmerman’s book is written by actor Blair Underwood, and due to its powerful message, many figures have lent their support and endorsements. NBA legend Alonzo Mourning, NFL greats Michael Vick and Michael Irving have shown support, in addition to billionaire Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban, NBA players Luca Doncic, Nate Robinson, Carlos Boozer and others. News commentator Van Jones and Dr. Elijah Anderson, one of the world’s top ethnographers, has also supported the book.
The oldest of five siblings, Zimmerman grew up in the projects of Waterbury, C.T., outside of Hartford. He lost his father to the streets when he was 16, and became the leader of the household and primary role model for his siblings. However, he always knew he wanted a better life for himself and went on to become the first in his family to attend and graduate from college.
Despite his state in life, he vividly remembers the trials and tribulations of growing up in a poverty stricken environment where gunshots, drugs and death are common. He unfortunately can relate to losing his father in a harsh cycle that permeates urban environments. Having worked in some of the roughest school districts, he was quick to realize that curriculums often are not tailored to suit the needs of children of color, nor help them with trauma they may face outside of the classroom.
“These kids are being exposed to traumatic experiences and there needs to be something in place to address it,” Zimmerman said. “The framework is what shapes their ideas; it shapes who they are and who they become. When traumatic experiences happen, if we don’t have the proper educational tools, it can cause false narratives to exist.”
While Zimmerman believes that schools could do more to help their students understand and cope with what is going on in their communities, he emphasizes that the biggest responsibility is on the parents. They must attend school board meetings, vote and be more accountable. Most importantly, they must set a positive example themselves.
“As adults we have to be mindful of everything that we are doing, because the children are watching. Even though they can’t understand what adults understand or articulate it, they are still watching,” he said. “Black, white, brown or yellow, what we are doing today is impacting today and tomorrow because the youth are our present and future. My goal is to make it easier for parents to communicate with their children. My book is one way to accomplish that.”
Tyrell Zimmerman’s book, “Carter: My Dream, My Reality” is currently available on amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Carter-My-Dream-Reality/dp/1631777106. Also, to keep up with Tyrell and his work, follow him on Instagram at @realhighup_.