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The ABC’s of Survival, the book that shouldn’t exist; designed to be torn apart

Award winning health creative agency The Bloc has teamed up with the National Black Child Development Institute to create The ABC’s of Survival—a dual purpose book to support mental health and change laws.A Survival Guide for Black Parents and Children.


The Problem:

Surviving is a daily struggle for people of color in the US, who routinely face inequity in healthcare, pay, and interactions with law enforcement. Black parents need to have “the talk” with their children, not about the simple parts of growing up, but about how to stay alive. These inequities place a heavy physical and mental burden on anyone Black in America—especially children.


The Solution:

Born from the creative minds of parents, Shamel and Tiffany Washington, in the wake of the tragic events of the summer of 2020, The ABC’s of Survival makes “the talk” tangible. The book, 8 months in the making, will debut at the end of Black History Month. Every page was created with the help of Black parents and BIPOC experts from different fields, including Allyson Jones, head of community mobilization and resource development at the NBCDI.

Its pages are an alphabet of lessons for BIPOC youth on how to survive—from being aware of your environment and how to interact with the police, to the power of protest, and loving yourself and those around you.

This book that should not exist is designed to be torn apart to take action—with tear-out protest posters, and postcards to send to Congress. It isn’t enough to read the lessons in this book, just as important are the conversations and change it sparks.

The launch will consist of two phases. An initial print run of 100 premium, hand-crafted copies will be distributed later this month to a hand-picked group of parents, teachers and other members of the community. A fully digital version of the book will soon be offered as well, so anyone can download it and share with their loved ones. Later, additional physical copies will be made available to a larger group.

Every aspect of The ABC’s of Survival was intentionally crafted and curated. 26 letters. 26 lessons. Eight tear-out pages to take action, and entirely original works of art from BIPOC artists around the world. Even the typography, derived from civil-rights protest posters, is the work of a Black typographer. The apostrophe on the cover is upside down—a small yet powerful symbol of subverting the status quo.

“Working in advertising, we get to tell stories for a living. I wanted to use the professional resources I have to tell a story that is personal, yet very relevant to the times. A story my parents had to tell me. Unfortunately, this is also a story that shouldn’t have to be told. Injustice is a hard pill to swallow—I’ve been unjustly arrested before—it is our reality. We must educate our youth and provide them with actual tools to take action now.” Shamel Washington, creator of The ABC’s of Survival.


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The Launch:

In honor of Black History Month, The ABC’s of Survival launched on February 1, sharing a letter per day on Instagram at @abcsofsurvival. The full book will debut at the end of February. Artwork from the book is featured alongside other donated works of art from Black artists in a virtual gallery: The gallery will update weekly during Black History Month with new art each week.

In partnership with the National Black Child Development Institute, The Bloc hopes that this book empowers youth and their families to have deep conversations, focus on mental health, and take action in their communities.

Find out more about The ABCs of Survival at and on Instagram at @abcsofsurvival.

All proceeds from the book will go directly to the nonprofit organization, the National Black Child Development Institute,