One of Ire’s aunties gifted her Sulwe by Lupita Nyang’o and it’s officially part of our daily routine. This isn’t your typical children’s book but it’s by far the best I’ve read. It’s about colorism, love and self-esteem. Little Sulwe is a dark-skinned girl who is often teased about the color of her skin when her sister is praised for being fair in complexion. Sulwe doesn’t think she’s beautiful because of her skin-tone and unfortunately this is what many of us encountered growing up and still face today.
Four things I love about Sulwe
1. The book is very beautiful to look at and the imagery is everything. It doesn’t tear easily and it’s so easy to flip through pages. Vashti Harrison did an excellent job with the illustration. I love that Ire can see imagery of children who resemble her, it really means a lot to me as a black mother.2. The simplicity: For such a huge topic- colorism, the words are broken down in a way that a child can comprehend and follow along. Ire obviously can’t fully understand what this means at this age but she will in a few years.3. It talks about what many people of color face, colorism. As a dark-skinned woman who is raising a dark-skinned daughter, I want Ire to embrace her beauty and know that she is perfect the way God created her. Like Sulwe, she is “dark and beautiful, dark and strong.” Growing up, light skin women were celebrated just like Mich (Sulwe’s sister) and many of us darker skinned women were made fun of because of our skin tone. The message behind this book is very beautiful because it’s so relatable and pushes for representation to improve every young black girl and boys’ self-esteem. This may be random but I love that Sulwe was able to express how she felt to her mom, I aim to that have kind of relationship with my children. I want my children to be comfortable enough to share everything with Olu and myself.
4. Self-esteem: beauty is from within and has absolutely nothing to do with physical appearance. We have to do better with our biases slin efforts to avoid unknowingly playing a role in making children feel they have to change who they are. When someone is dark skinned, their nicknames sometimes have a negative connotation to it, meanwhile that usually isn’t the case for a light skinned person. Everyone is obviously not like this but many people are and things have to change.
I often get asked about the books ire reads. Not all the books are available online but I’ve listed five of the ones I found and similar versions below.