HALALA
06/04/2018 16:42 SAST | Updated 07/04/2018 02:51 SAST

New Children's Book Teaches Kids That Skin Colour Doesn't Matter

Sindiwe Magona is the co-author of "Skin We Are In".

Picture of Sindiwe Magona (above, centre): Clarisse Coetzee Marketing and Event Management

"Skin We Are In" is a storybook that looks at the sensitive and important issue concerning skin pigmentation and explaining to children why people look different.

"Yes, it is a storybook, and the story is about the meaning of skin. First, why we all have different skin colour; how it all began, what it means and, more interestingly, what it does not mean," co-author Sindiwe Magona told Litnet.

She wrote the book, which was launched last month, along with Nina Jablonski.

According to Magona, it places children at the centre, allowing them to talk about their fears and confusion pertaining to skin colour.

"Let them talk it out, air their feelings, their fears, their confusion and their curiosity and uncertainties about the issue. Arouse in the children the questions that society is busy telling them – perhaps not overtly, but through the attitudes the children observe – are questions they should not ask."

She says children are often mocked for their complexion, and she wants them to have a greater understanding of the story behind their pigmentation.

"They are made to feel ashamed when other people ridicule them or treat them differently or call them names ... exclude them. They are confused, angry and sad, and want to be or wish they could be other than what they are."

To this day, because of skin colour, there is a putting down, an othering that is sometimes annoying: a salesperson to whom I will always be invisible.

The book has been translated into five languages because "all children deserve to get the message, as early as possible," according to Magona.

She says it is important for children to know that skin colour is not a determinant of destiny.

"It [skin pigmentation] has nothing to do with what they are capable of, and what dreams they may cherish or goals they may set for themselves," she said.

Magona herself has been a victim of discrimination as a black woman.

"I have written two autobiographical books about it: disenfranchisement, 3rd class citizenship, jobs I could not even apply for – all because of the colour of my skin."

She continued: "To this day, because of skin colour, there is a putting down, an othering that is sometimes annoying: a salesperson to whom I will always be invisible."