“My color is black… and there’s no black in rainbows.”
The first time I read these words, it felt sad. But on the very next page, the narrator begins to list all the places the color black is found, like a crayon, “the dirt where sunflowers grow,” and “the braids in my best friend’s hair.” Each page tells us what black is, and that it’s not just a color. “Black is a rhythm. Black is the blues. Black is side-walking in spit-shined shoes.” There are many references to well-known African-Americans, like Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as poems and songs by the likes of Langston Hughes and Billie Holiday. There are pages at the back of the book that explain all the references, as well as provide a timeline of Black Ethnonyms in America.
The Author’s Note at the back explains her purpose in writing this book- and you can’t skip over it when you read the book. She says she hopes her book “will serve as a point of departure for educators and parents alike” and it is books like these that educators must choose to read to their classes all year long. Make this one a choice to continue the conversation started during Black History Month in February or read it during National Poetry Month in April as it’s told in rhyme. Read it in August or September when you’re building a classroom community so that all of your students will know they belong and are welcome.