Words That Inspire: A Mix of Books (finally) on Mixed-Race People
Kip Fulbeck created the book he always wanted as a kid: The Hapa Project, a series of photos and essays documenting the part-Asian experience.
Suggested activity: Have your students simulate the Hapa Project by taking simple, unadulterated snapshot portraits (little makeup or facial expression) of themselves and answering the question, “What are you?”
Fourth grader Amy Hodges was nicknamed Amy Hodgepodge by her friend Lola because Amy’s Japanese, African American, Korean, and white–a hodgepodge of many races. Inspired by their 38 nieces and nephew, many who are multiracial, writers and actors Kim Wayans and Kevin Knotts want to help young people “embrace diversity because diversity is a beautiful thing.”
Read about Amy’s adventures to the young students in your life, and discover how Amy and others work through real issues with humor and kindness.
Here’s an excerpt from the first book:
I sat down next to my grandmother. But before I could reach for my cereal, she put her hand over mine and said, “Little Mitsukai, I’m going to miss you all day.”
My grandmother was born in Japan and she always called me Little Mitsukai. Little Angel.
My grandfather didn’t speak Japanese. He was from Korea. And he didn’t have a nickname for me at all. He always said there was no need for nicknames when I had a perfectly nice name already.
Dad’s parents are like that, too. Different. His mother is black and his father is white.
Sometimes when we’re all together—my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins—I wonder if people will even know we are a family since we all look so different from one another.
“I’ll be back at three, Obaasan,” I said to my grandmother. “And we can go for our daily walk then, okay?”
Kids of color confront race in and out of their homes at a very early age. According to Brooklyn freelance writer and dad Desmond Williams, “It is vital that parents acknowledge, embrace, explain, and encourage an understanding of the differences their children see.” Easy to understand. Sometimes humbling to carry out.
Williams’ soon-to-be-published graphic novel The Painted Man: What My Young Son Taught Me About Race, is a collection of “coming of race” memoirs that finds a dad confronted by racially charged questions posed directly by his young son and the people with whom they come into contact. Ask your students what they notice about this dad’s experience. Is the graphic novel format more engaging than plain text in learning about race?
LEARN: More about The Painted Man
The above resources accompany the May 2010 YES! Education Connection Newsletter
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