(This piece is an excerpt from Hues of You – An Activity Book for Learning About the Skin You Are In)
We constantly support early learning about colors by sharing facts, singing songs, and playing games. We enthusiastically teach our children the hues of the rainbow and point out the red bus, blue sky, green grass, and so on.
But even though children from as young as three months old observe differences in skin color, we are far less enthusiastic or prepared to teach them about the beautiful hues of brown that make up skin tones. Instead, we leave them to figure out the differences for themselves, promote color blindness, or limit them to society’s constructed racial categories (e.g., Black, White, Asian). Our children deserve more than silence or contrived myths about the human body’s largest organ—the skin.
When we pretend not to “see” color or notice differences in race—and when we pretend that everyone is treated equally—we do not help our children understand that race should not matter; in fact this race- and color-blind ideology is extremely harmful because it leaves us ill prepared to change or even talk about the inequities in our society.
And racial categories alone don’t give us the framework, language, and room to express the nuances of our many-hued reality. The concept of race was created to institute a social hierarchy. Racial categories describe only how we are grouped and not how we actually look. And if you, your family, or your community is multiethnic like mine, the confines of racial categories are too narrow and frail to hold the expanse of our ethnicities, histories, and heritages. We require the freedom and space to notice, describe, and appreciate our personal bodies beyond our racialized groupings.
Researchers have found that conversations with children about skin tone and race must be explicit, should use simple terms that children understand, and should be incorporated into family life and formal learning environments.
I created the Hues of You activity book for loving parents, teachers, and caregivers like you to help you confidently approach constructive conversations around skin tone, ethnicity, culture, and race! For years, I’ve had the privilege of presenting educational workshops in libraries, in churches, in classrooms, and even at MOMcon, where I demonstrate fun, engaging, and age-appropriate ways to foster learning around race and skin tones. The response is an enthusiastically expressed need for more how-to instructional tools for braving the shift from color blindness to color consciousness and disrupting harmful racialized messaging. Hues of You is one such tool.
Hues of You launches February 22! But please preorder your copy and get exclusive access to
- A video companion workshop with me!
- A discount code to Brownicity’s b.kids course: Let’s Learn About
Find more learning support for cultivating competence and confidence through Brownicity’s Kids & Family lessons.