T.W. Bright — Author Interview — Faith Talk With Tamara

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 Listen to Faith Talk With Tamara and T.W. Bright

Bullying in the Christian Community

How would God want us to deal with bullying?

First, I want to thank Tamara for combating this prevalent issue among both children and adults.

We discussed the book Bright and the Bully, which gives children five simple steps they can take to fight against bullying, in a Christian manner, and without violence.

Bright and the Bully Author Interview - Faith Talk With Tamara

Tamara: With all the books out there, what inspired you to write this book?

T.W. Bright: When I was a kid, I was not a good reader and not very good in school when it came to reading. I was able to read, but reading out loud was something that was very embarrassing for me. I didn’t even want to pick up a book because it represented something that brought me the most shame.

When I was in my twenties and became a Christian I finally got over it through the help of a dear friend who I did Bible study with. Through the encouragement and building up, I was able to overcome my difficulties with reading and was able to come out of my shell.

One of the difficulties with children, it’s also the looks that parents give their kids, or the complaints that the parent makes about the child not doing what they should. These things are just as much a part of bullying as their child getting picked on in school.

Not to sound cliche, but I really do feel that writing is something that God wanted me to do. I first thought of doing a children’s book based on a Bible verse. I was always interested in superheroes, so I looked up children’s books that were biblically based, and I didn’t see anything that had any action.

After trying to get my sisters to write it for me, I found out I had to do it myself even though I really didn’t feel that I could ever be a writer. It turned out that God wanted me to step out of my comfort zone, so it was something that was just simply there, unfolding, rather than being planned.

One of the major things that makes this book different from other bullying books is that it focuses mainly on the bystanders are the biggest influence on bullying.

Tamara: I love how you incorporated God and this superhero kind of character. And it’s funny, growing up, I was bullied. My grandmother and my sister would always say, even though we were Christian, it was “if they hit you, you hit them back, do you want me to come to school and fight for you?”

Bright and the Bully Children's BookAnd when my son started to get bullied, I came with a different approach, I used your book. We went over the book and we read it. I showed him — this is what Bright did, and instead of coming back and retaliating, we come back and we pray for him and we pray for his heart. Because the reason why he’s bullying is because he needs healed from something. You helped give me a different perspective on how to address my son who’s also growing up in a household of faith.

As Christians, do you think we talk enough about these issues?

T.W. Bright: It’s kind of funny, you said you were taught, “when someone hits you, you better hit them back” and that was the very phrase that stuck in my head when I was writing this book. I was a firm believer of that. I was never bullied because I was the kid that bullied the bullies. When my sister got bullied because she had bifocal glasses, I was the one that came behind and bullied the one that was bullying her.

I was taught that, and every other African-American that I knew was taught that same thing. It’s not that you don’t defend yourself, if you look at the steps in the book, it tells you to stand up for other people also. The big thing with Bright, is to not act selfishly.

I wanted to do something different than what I was taught.

There are other options. I only knew one option, and that was to fight. I don’t want kids to only have that one option.

To answer your question, I would say the answer is a yes and a no. As believers, I feel that we do need to talk more about real-life situations, and bullying is a real-life situation. If you can’t talk about real life with other believers — where else can you talk about it? 

I talk about this a lot when I’m teaching, too many of us are church-minded, organizational-minded. In this, our identity is wrapped up in church or a congregation, or even a political party.

We’re so wrapped up in this identity, that we don’t have the identity of Christ.

So, yes, on one end, I believe we need to talk about this more. But, then when we talk about being believers, I think we talk too much. In writing, you’re suppose to show more and tell less, that’s the fundamental key of writing. I believe it’s the same thing when it comes to us as believers, show more and tell less — in your actions, because too many of us can talk the talk, but we can’t walk the walk. The answer is both yes and no, it really depends on the angle you’re coming from.

I definitely think that this is something that needs talked about in the church. I do what we call “real time” – I incorporate what happened throughout the week into the scriptures. When you get people out and interacting and you have a dialogue, it opens up so many different doors.

Tamara: Yes, people can learn to experience true healing.

T.W. Bright: Exactly, it’s different than just sitting and listening all the time. Instead you can take things and learn to apply them in your everyday life.

Tamara: As we were speaking about this I realized, your book is actually a starting point for conversations. I can see this as something for small group discussion. “Let’s talk about Bright and the Bully and how to respond. Have you ever been bullied? How have you responded to these things?”

I even see this for small groups in different churches, and different types of settings for talking about these types of issues. I definitely commend you for writing this book. I see this going in a bigger new avenue of opening up and being able to talk about bullying for what it really is.

Our kids are killing themselves because they’re being bullied. They don’t want to go to school because they’re bullied.

You don’t realize it, but you just tapped into something on a real large scale, something that we need to talk about.

Thank you for getting over the fear.

T.W. Bright: I didn’t realize it at first. I just realized that I’m not a typical author. I didn’t set out to get an award. I didn’t set out for accolades.

I just wanted to teach kids to be the light of the world.

And, not only kids, I wanted to teach people that. That’s what my life is about and I try to do those things by modeling those behaviors and principles that we find in the Bible. I don’t have to tell people that I’m a minister when I go places.

Bright and the Bully is already starting to open those doors, I’m already having those conversations. A lady at my church gave me something called a “Bully Ball” which has a lot of different questions about bullying. You toss the ball and the kid that gets the ball, whatever it lands on is a question. It opens up another dialogue.

I’ve been asked to come into some schools and what I’m going to do is bring the Bully Ball with me. So, yes, this is not just a book, this is a starting point. Yes, I’m an author now, but this is more of a ministry, something that I know that the Lord is going to work through in a deeper way than just reading a book.

Tamara: Definitely! I see this book as being for many different ages. What specific age group did you have in mind when you wrote this book?

T.W. Bright: I’m not a very traditional author, I didn’t really plan around an age. I just simply wrote what was in my heart. The way that I gauge the age is by my nephew, who the character Bright, is based on. He’s a very sharp young man who’s five years old, and that’s where I got the character from. He’s so intelligent and so smart, he can quote and read the Bible at his age. So, I just put age five up until you’re not interested in picture books anymore, because the principles in the book can help any age, from when they start to read they can get something out of the book — until they aren’t interested.

Tamara: I say five to adulthood! Even as adults, we sometimes don’t know how to respond to things. Like in the book, you tell us, don’t just be spectators — sometimes we just sit there with a camera-phone and video recording instead of doing something. So, this resonates even with us as adults — don’t forget to intervene.

T.W. Bright: I spoke at a bookstore the other day, and a lady asked me, “What would Bright do if this was cyber-bullying?” What I said was that bullying is bullying, so he would pretty much do the same thing, but the key is that the person who is going through bullying feels isolated.

They feel all alone and that nobody is there for them, so I said what Bright would do is reach out to them and let them know that they’re not alone. And then we can start through the other steps.

Like you said, Bright isn’t talking just to kids, but adults as well, because sometimes we don’t think of these things. We see things on social media, people getting picked on, and we never think to reach out to that person and just say “Hey, how are you?”

People kill themselves because they usually feel all alone and everybody hates them. I had a little girl tell me, “Everybody hates me,” and I was about to say that everybody doesn’t hate you, but I looked and I saw that they do treat her like they hate her. So, what I had to do was work with the other kids and teach them how to respect other kids.

One day, after about a month, some other kids were bullying the same girl and they stood up for her. After they stood up for her, I could just see, it just made her day. It changed the whole dynamic of how the children participated with each other.

That was one of the key things that I took and put into Bright and the Bully,  and why I wanted to focus on the bystander. Because the bystander, or the spectator, needs to say something.

Tamara: Exactly, they need that support. Any words for anyone who’s looking to write their own children’s book? You talked about getting over fear and being able to push past that, what are some words of encouragement you’d give someone who’s stuck in fear right now, and they’re saying, “I have an idea right now”, but they’ll never push past the pen and paper? What are some words of encouragement that you have?

T.W. Bright: Know that your content is important. Whether that’s writing a book, making YouTube videos, or whatever that is, especially if it’s something that you feel the Lord is putting in your heart, your content is important and you have that for a reason. You have to believe your story needs to be told.

Once you can grasp that, it can help you move past the fear.

For me, it came so alive and was so strong that it just needed to get out, that I couldn’t do anything but get it out. So, if you’re thinking about fear when it comes to things like you’re not good at grammar or you’re not good at this, a lot of authors aren’t.

That’s why you have editors, that’s why you have people to go behind your work and to proofread and things of that sort.

Miles Monroe, he’s not only a great speaker, but he became a bestselling author. One day he was talking about how someone came to him and said, “You’re a great speaker, you should be an author.” He said that he wanted to for a long time, but he doesn’t have the time. The guy said, “I’m with a publishing company, and I have the time, so why don’t we just take your audio and I’ll make it into a book?” and he put them out there. And so he said, “I’ll work with you on that.” They went back and forth, came up with a deal, and now he’s a bestselling author.

I said wait a minute, he didn’t even actually write the books, he just spoke. His content is still in a book though, so, there’s always a way.

You don’t have to do things the traditional way, you just have to get busy and do the things you were called to do.

Whatever that He put in you, you need to go forth and do that, and it’ll make a way for itself.

That’s the place that I had to come to. Instead of wanting somebody else to do it, I just had to get busy and do my part. The rest is history.

So, that’s my encouragement — just do it.

Tamara: Thank you, and you definitely encouraged and inspired me just now too. I have some things and I’m stalling, so thank you for the words.

Where can we find Bright and the Bully?

T.W. Bright: It’s on Amazon – where you can get it in either hardcover or softcover, and also on my website – TWBrightBooks.com On the website you can find the links for the book, and find how to connect with me, and you can find a video blog that I’ve been doing.

Be sure to subscribe for updates because I’m going to be doing more:

Tamara: I was definitely encouraged, motivated, and inspired by your interview. We’ve touched on many areas that will resonate with my listeners. I want to thank you for being a guest on Faith Talk With Tamara and wish you much luck with your book and also the book will be on my website at http://simplytnicole.com because I truly believe in the message that is being shared through Bright and the Bully and I know that it will bless many.

T.W. Bright: Thank you for having me, and continue to be the light, continue to put yourself out there in front of the world. We have to be the example, we have to be the light. Shine, that’s what you were called to do, so thank you and God bless you.

You are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)



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