Kids & Race Book Club: So You Want to Talk About Race and Big Hair, Don’t Care

by Hannah Hong-Frelot and Joselynn Tokashiki Engstrom

So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo

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Ijeoma Oluo is a brilliant, yet accessible, scholar of race. She leads by example, and while there are plenty of resources on race out there, hers is particularly self-reflexive, nuanced, and accessible for the general public who are new to thinking about race.

I’ve heard it said that privilege and intersectionality are complicated topics. Not so with Oluo’s eloquent prose and easy-to-understand examples. By pulling stories from her life in interactions with white people and people of color alike, she balances her perspective as a college-educated, light-skinned African-American, American citizen, along with her background as a single, working-poor, queer mother.

It takes great strength and spiritual depth to share one’s core beliefs and practice them for your audience. Oluo’s brilliance, ability to  effectively communicate her resilience, passion, and empathy is something unique and worth celebrating. My favorite sections were “What is the Model Minority Myth?”, “Why am I Always Being Told to ‘Check My Privilege’?”, and “What is Cultural Appropriation?”

Bottom Line: I recommend this book for anyone looking to delve into understanding the experience of people of color and women of color. Oluo’s writing is accessible and broken up into short sections so it can be easily fit into a parent’s busy schedule.

 

Big Hair, Don’t Care, by Crystal Swain-Bates

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Spoiler Alert: My 2.5-year-old daughter has big hair and LOVES this book!  

This is the story of a little girl who has big hair and she really doesn’t care.  She acknowledges that other people might take issue with her hair, but again, she really doesn’t care.  She is unapologetic for her hair; she embraces and celebrates her crown…even if others might not agree.

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The girl wears her hair in other styles, looking fabulous.  To which my daughter likes to point to an image and say, “Mama, let’s do that one later”.

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The rhyming cadence makes it easy for her ‘read along’.  And when the girl says “I Love My hair!” my daughter throws her hands up in the air and yells, “I Love My hair!” right along with her.

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Bottom Line:  This book is perfect to help teach and encourage self-esteem in a fun and positive way.   And yes, I would recommend this for ANY child to read, regardless of if they have big hair or not.  The more that non-black children read books that feature black children in everyday life the better everyone will be.  This book can help peers begin to understand black joy and positivity around hair. This book is for everyone.