Black Professor Creates Children's Book Based on Her Research on the Effects of Colorism

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Conversations around colorism have a deep history within the Black community. For one Black woman professor living in Florida, following her research on the negative effects of this phenomenon, she decided to create a children’s book to help parents navigate those conversations with their young girls.

Dr. Rokeisha Ashley is the creator of the SunFlower Child, a book depicting the life of an inner-city Black girl that consists of positive affirmations about her skin tone. Ashley, who works as an assistant professor at Florida International University, was inspired to create the book after her dissertation research on the effects of skin whitening within the African diaspora and the root of the obsession with having lighter skin.

“In my research, I found that women who use skin whitening products hide from the sun to maintain their complexion or reduce the chances of having lasting health impacts from using the products,” Dr. Ashley said in an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE via email. “Black and brown girls are socialized to hide away from the sun to maintain or have a fairer complexion, rather than seeking out the sun as a nutrient."

She went on to say that it was important for young girls to see positive representations of themselves and be nurtured based on her own experiences during her youth. “Now, I know the elder warnings were derived from their own social and racialized experiences—experiences I would inevitably come to learn of in my future. Unfortunately, their yearning to protect me from the ails of society by giving me caution was instead stripping a simple joy of childhood,” she adds.

Dr. Ashley says it is important for parents to also practice positive affirmations while children are young so they can grow up with healthy self-esteem, something she does with her child on a daily basis. “Every morning and night, my 3-year-old and I say, “I am melanin filled and my beauty shines from within!” she says. “A simple statement that’s loaded with power that she can remember and consistently speak into existence daily.”


Black Professor Creates Children's Book on the Effects of Colorism
 
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Conversations around colorism have a deep history within the Black community. For one Black woman professor living in Florida, following her research on the negative effects of this phenomenon, she decided to create a children’s book to help parents navigate those conversations with their young girls.

Dr. Rokeisha Ashley is the creator of the SunFlower Child, a book depicting the life of an inner-city Black girl that consists of positive affirmations about her skin tone. Ashley, who works as an assistant professor at Florida International University, was inspired to create the book after her dissertation research on the effects of skin whitening within the African diaspora and the root of the obsession with having lighter skin.

“In my research, I found that women who use skin whitening products hide from the sun to maintain their complexion or reduce the chances of having lasting health impacts from using the products,” Dr. Ashley said in an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE via email. “Black and brown girls are socialized to hide away from the sun to maintain or have a fairer complexion, rather than seeking out the sun as a nutrient."

She went on to say that it was important for young girls to see positive representations of themselves and be nurtured based on her own experiences during her youth. “Now, I know the elder warnings were derived from their own social and racialized experiences—experiences I would inevitably come to learn of in my future. Unfortunately, their yearning to protect me from the ails of society by giving me caution was instead stripping a simple joy of childhood,” she adds.

Dr. Ashley says it is important for parents to also practice positive affirmations while children are young so they can grow up with healthy self-esteem, something she does with her child on a daily basis. “Every morning and night, my 3-year-old and I say, “I am melanin filled and my beauty shines from within!” she says. “A simple statement that’s loaded with power that she can remember and consistently speak into existence daily.”


Black Professor Creates Children's Book on the Effects of Colorism
I love this! I will get some.for my.neices..wish I had a babygirl !
 
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I find it so interesting that it is always black women driving this conversation and trying to find solutions in combatting this.

as always, where are the black men who have dark skin black daughters???

Does it dawn on black women that the sons they give birth to perpetuate this and have no interest in changing?
 
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I find it so interesting that it is always black women driving this conversation and trying to find solutions in combatting this.

as always, where are the black men who have dark skin black daughters???

Does it dawn on black women that the sons they give birth to perpetuate this and have no interest in changing?
So strange to me too. I guess to continue the race.
 
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I wish people would stop making things like this and marketing them towards children. Making a child aware of their skin and how it’s perceived by others causes an inferiority complex within them because they think there’s something wrong with them that makes people frown down on them. Same thing with racism, some things you need to shelter your children from.

Surround your children with plenty of black movies, shows, music etc. Make blackness the standard in your household and you’ll prepare them for the world without giving them a complex.
 
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It’s always us talking about Black & Brown :no2


Regardless I hope her book does well. I’m here for Black women getting all the success in the world.
 
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I find it so interesting that it is always black women driving this conversation and trying to find solutions in combatting this.

as always, where are the black men who have dark skin black daughters???

Does it dawn on black women that the sons they give birth to perpetuate this and have no interest in changing?

Black women want to find solutions and not sit around waiting for other people to do it. I am glad she is doing something instead of just complaining or waiting for someone else to change things.
 
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I wish people would stop making things like this and marketing them towards children. Making a child aware of their skin and how it’s perceived by others causes an inferiority complex within them because they think there’s something wrong with them that makes people frown down on them. Same thing with racism, some things you need to shelter your children from.

Surround your children with plenty of black movies, shows, music etc. Make blackness the standard in your household and you’ll prepare them for the world without giving them a complex.

Black children will be aware of their skin and how it's perceived by others if they are surrounded by black movies, shows, music, etc. as colorism exists in all of those mediums as well. Probably even more of it.
 
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Black children will be aware of their skin and how it's perceived by others if they are surrounded by black movies, shows, music, etc. as colorism exists in all of those mediums as well. Probably even more of it.
Exactly. That's why I DON"T watch much black film due to the blatant and consistent colorism.

Eta. Though I always thought and wanted children, I am soo glad I don't have a child in today's world. People are trying but then the child goes out to the broadband and it is just a cesspool of colorism, hypersex, pills etc... A lot still make it through but I wish our society,and more specifically our community, was not so toxic, which makes it sooo much harder to impart values to a child.
 
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Black children will be aware of their skin and how it's perceived by others if they are surrounded by black movies, shows, music, etc. as colorism exists in all of those mediums as well. Probably even more of it.


Can’t relate. I was surrounded by black
Cinema, art, music and people as I grew up in a predominantly black area. My parents never talked about skin color in my house until I got older and I’m better because of it. I don’t have a complex about my skin tone.

CHILDREN should not be burdened with such things, that’s why we have so many people walking around with broken spirits til this day. They’ve been indoctrinated since childhood that black is inferior and/or looked down upon. That is something no child should have to carry.
 

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בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם
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I find it so interesting that it is always black women driving this conversation and trying to find solutions in combatting this.

as always, where are the black men who have dark skin black daughters???

Does it dawn on black women that the sons they give birth to perpetuate this and have no interest in changing?
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Can’t relate. I was surrounded by black
Cinema, art, music and people as I grew up in a predominantly black area. My parents never talked about skin color in my house until I got older and I’m better because of it. I don’t have a complex about my skin tone.

CHILDREN should not be burdened with such things, that’s why we have so many people walking around with broken spirits til this day. They’ve been indoctrinated since childhood that black is inferior and/or looked down upon. That is something no child should have to carry.

Sis I get what you're saying but the article says the book is full of positive affirmations of the girl's skintone... it's not like the book is trying to explain colorism to kids outright.
 
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I use to hide from the sun which is tragic because I’m vitamin D deficient now and take supplements.

I always hide from the sun too.

My skin kissed by sunrays looks horrible. Just horrible. I have always hated it and walked around with umbrellas and not cared what anyone thought.
 
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I find it so interesting that it is always black women driving this conversation and trying to find solutions in combatting this.

as always, where are the black men who have dark skin black daughters???

Does it dawn on black women that the sons they give birth to perpetuate this and have no interest in changing?

Their sons are allowed to live out their worst instincts because black women decided a long time ago, she wasnt going to raise him and she is low key attracted to his malignant bravado.
 
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I find it so interesting that it is always black women driving this conversation and trying to find solutions in combatting this.

as always, where are the black men who have dark skin black daughters???

Does it dawn on black women that the sons they give birth to perpetuate this and have no interest in changing?
Colorism, texturism, featurism, was spread in my house by a black grandmother, mother, and sister. Miss me with your bullshit.
 
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Can’t relate. I was surrounded by black
Cinema, art, music and people as I grew up in a predominantly black area.
My parents never talked about skin color in my house until I got older and I’m better because of it. I don’t have a complex about my skin tone.

CHILDREN should not be burdened with such things, that’s why we have so many people walking around with broken spirits til this day. They’ve been indoctrinated since childhood that black is inferior and/or looked down upon. That is something no child should have to carry.
Unless you were chained to your home for you entire childhood, I promise you the real world is not as accommodating as you are describing it. My little sister was called "Tar Baby" all through her childhood even though my parents made efforts to not emphasize on the world being racist and cruel towards black people. What made it worse was us being first generation and my mother simply not understanding why these kids were being so mean to my sister, leaving her feeling isolated. I think the power of empowering children who may be left vulnerable due to the pigment of their skin is fully needed in this world. But in the end, if you don't like that, ignore it and do things your own way.
 
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Can’t relate. I was surrounded by black
Cinema, art, music and people as I grew up in a predominantly black area. My parents never talked about skin color in my house until I got older and I’m better because of it. I don’t have a complex about my skin tone.

CHILDREN should not be burdened with such things, that’s why we have so many people walking around with broken spirits til this day. They’ve been indoctrinated since childhood that black is inferior and/or looked down upon. That is something no child should have to carry.

I grew up in a black community surrounded by black cinema, art, music and people and heard neverending negative comments about dark skin, nappy hair and any other physical feature associated with black people FROM BLACK PEOPLE. My parents didn't talk about skin color in my house, but they should have cause I heard it outside of the home at a very early age. It's fine you can't relate and perhaps the book isn't for you but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be made for others.

Children shouldn't be burdened with it, but they are.
 
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I grew up in a black community surrounded by black cinema, art, music and people and heard neverending negative comments about dark skin, nappy hair and any other physical feature associated with black people FROM BLACK PEOPLE. My parents didn't talk about skin color in my house, but they should have cause I heard it outside of the home at a very early age. It's fine you can't relate and perhaps the book isn't for you but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be made for others.

Children shouldn't be burdened with it, but they are.
Same here. I don't really recall anyone every being colorist in person with me, but as a child I watched lots of TV. All the classic black shows made me hyper aware that I was not beautiful like those light skin mixed women they choose to cast in the main roles. The only desirable dark skin woman I remember from TV was Laura from Family Matters
 
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I wish people would stop making things like this and marketing them towards children. Making a child aware of their skin and how it’s perceived by others causes an inferiority complex within them because they think there’s something wrong with them that makes people frown down on them. Same thing with racism, some things you need to shelter your children from.

Surround your children with plenty of black movies, shows, music etc. Make blackness the standard in your household and you’ll prepare them for the world without giving them a complex.

This. As a child, I barely watched tv and didn't realize there was an issue with being black or darker. I grew up in a very black focused home. I was happy in my skin because my parents hyped me up. If you need a book and your parents ain't hyping you up there is a problem.
 

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