'I remember what it felt like to be a little girl and never see anything like that': Deanna Singh works to make worktime and playtime more inclusive

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - A Wisconsin woman is helping to guide people young and old through topics like race and inclusion through books and toys.

"I really think that it's important that everybody gets an opportunity to see positive representations of themselves," Deanna Singh said.

Deanna Singh has one impressive resume. An author, motivational speaker, podcaster and successful business owner -- she is focused on elevating people of color, and making sure they are represented in all aspects of life.

"I think that's at work, I think that that is out in the community, in our media or advertising," Singh said. "I was born into this work."

She owns her company "Uplifting Impact" with her husband. Together, they help people and companies create conversations on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

"In the summer of 2020, my husband and I started doing sessions on how to talk to children about race," she said. "Around the time when George Floyd was murdered, there was a number of people reaching out to me because they were experiencing conversations they didn't feel like they were prepared for with their children."

These online sessions quickly started to attract an audience.

"First we started off with a couple hundred people. By the end of the summer, we talked to 10-thousand people," Singh said.

This caught the eye of one very famous company.

"One of the people on the call happened to be somebody from the American Girl team. They reached out after going through that session with us."

Singh was asked to write a book for American Girl.

"They were saying, look, we want to use our platform to raise the conversation about why it's important to have diversity in our literature. It's important to have diversity in our toys," she said.

The book is called "A Smart Girl's Guide: Race and Inclusion." The book helps kids understand race, racism and anti-racism, and why practicing inclusion can have a big impact on the world.

"If we're having conversations with our young people at a younger age, then as they grow up these conversations are not so scary. They don't seem like something they can't take a part of," Singh said.

Deanna is also part of the "World By Us" team. She is helping to bring a collection of diverse dolls to life.

"One is a mixed-race girl, she's black and white, one is an African American girl, and one is a Latin X girl," Singh said

Mackena is one of the first dolls she helped out with. The doll is currently on sale at all American Girl doll locations and their site.

"It is a beautiful African American doll who just really reflects this idea that's it's important for us to not only listen to our children, but make sure they have the opportunity to use their voice," Singh said. "And one of the things I think is so powerful about it is I remember what it felt like to be a little girl and never see anything like that."

She is currently in the process of helping to create more dolls just like her.

"I think one of the things I really loved about both 'The World By Us 'and also writing the race and inclusion book projects was the fact that in many ways it was exactly what I felt like I needed as a child and didn't have access to. For me, there was this personal like this is for you! This is for the 10-year-old Deanna," she said.

Outside of American Girl, Singh is also focused on making sure people are represented in the real world, too.

"What we really wanted to do with this book is make sure people that people had a guidebook," Singh said.

She is getting ready to release "Actions Speak Louder," a book that encourages workplaces to be more diverse.

"It's important if you are an organization that really cares about making sure you can step into what the future holds, that you take the ideas that are in Actions Speak Louder and take them really seriously," Singh said.

So, whether you are young or old, Singh has made it her mission to make sure everyone can see themselves everywhere they go.

"We need to be able to make sure that we are offering the opportunity for people to see positive reflections of themselves," she said.

Singh's book "Actions Speak Louder" is out May 31. It is available now for pre-order. 

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