Entertainment

Lupita Nyong’o Wrote A Children’s Book About The Prejudice In Favor Of Lighter Skin Color And It’s Out This Month

“Black Panther” and “Us” star Lupita Nyong’o keeps wowing audiences and critics with every performance. She stunned the whole world with her interpretation of Patsey in “Twelve Years a Slave” which earned her an Oscar—making her the first African woman to ever win an Academy Award for acting. Her performance in “Us” made us all shift in our seats watching her amazing portrayal of “Red” the creepy anti-hero of the film. 

She speaks four languages, has a graduate degree from Yale, won an Academy Award for her debut performance, has covered fashion magazines and newspapers around the world and has every film critic in her pocket, what else could she possibly do next? 

Write a book. 

The Kenyan-Mexican actress is debuting her first book this month.

credit Instagram @lupitanyongo

Inspired by the lack of diversity in the books she read growing up, the actress turned author, decided to do her part by creating a children’s book that tackles colorism and representation. “Sulwe” which means “star” in Luo, Lupita’s native language, is a children’s picture book that’s all about a girl whose skin is “the color of midnight”, who is “darker than everyone in her family”, according to its official synopsis by publishing house Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, and is described by the publisher as “a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem and learning that true beauty comes from within.”

Nyong’o first announced the news of the book on her Instagram page back in January. 

“Sulwe is a dark-skinned girl who goes on a starry-eyed adventure and awakens with a reimagined sense of beauty. She encounters lessons that we learn as children and spend our lives unlearning. This is a story for little ones, but no matter the age I hope it serves as an inspiration for everyone to walk with joy in their own skin.” The Kenyan-Mexican actress told Marie Claire that she hopes Sulwe will offer inspiration to young readers, saying, “In no way do I imagine a child will read this and never have a problem with the world discriminating against their skin or themselves discriminating again their skin. But at least you have a foundation. You have something that reminds you that you are enough.”

The book is illustrated by artist, filmmaker and bestselling author Vashti Harrison, a fervent activist for racial equality herself.

credit www.vasthiharrison.com

The book is illustrated by Vashti Harrison, the author and illustrator of New York Times bestselling book “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History”. Nyong’o said in a statement that she’s loved having Harrison on board, “Sulwe is a character near and dear to my heart, and seeing her brought to life through Vashti’s illustrations is thrilling.” Vashti, an artist, slash filmmaker, slash author, revealed that she wanted the art for “Sulwe” to be eye-catching, magical and whimsical, “The story has an incredibly moving and powerful message, while at the same time shares a fun and whimsical adventure. I wanted to infuse every page with as much elegance and thoughtfulness, as much magic and wonder, so readers would want to come back again and again.”

credit Instagram @lupitanyongo

The 48-page book is aimed at children as young as four, through to the age of eight. Executive Editor at “Sulwe”‘s publishing house Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, said in an interview: “Lupita is outspoken on the issue of colorism, and gave a moving speech about the subject at the Essence Awards in 2014. Colorism is the theme that she’s chosen to expand on for her first picture book. In Sulwe, Lupita Nyong’o shines a light on the prejudices of skin color honestly and unflinchingly but in a way that is also accessible for even the youngest readers. Sulwe introduces an unforgettable character whose journey in the night sky is magical, empowering, and full of whimsy. This story is a beautiful celebration of learning where your strengths lie and discovering the beauty within that kids from all backgrounds can relate to. The story takes place in Kenya, a country not often represented in picture books, and the culture and setting are integral to the story.”

This week, Lupita took to Twitter to share some thoughts on the importance that representation has on young black children like her, when she was growing up.

credit Twitter @lupita_nyongo

On a lengthy post on Twitter, Lupita Nyong’o shared that the book is a love letter to her younger self and to black children around the world. She wrote about how growing up, she never saw girls and women like her represented in the books she read. She went on to say how she was given a glimpse, “a window”  into the lives of people who looked nothing like her, and how that made her yearn for a black role model, “I didn’t have any mirrors”, “mirrors help us develop our sense of self”.

“Colourism, society’s preference for lighter skin is alive and well. It is not just a prejudice reserved for places with a largely white population. Throughout the world, even in Kenya, even today, there is a popular sentiment that lighter is brighter.” “Sulwe” is released online and in bookstores everywhere October 15.

Afro-Latinas Inspiring Us To Live Out The Dream With Their Poetry

Things That Matter

Afro-Latinas Inspiring Us To Live Out The Dream With Their Poetry

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When you’re a Latina who’s walked through life receiving a slew of comments, like “you’re pretty for a morena” or “you could be cute if you fixed that pelo malo,” you know that it isn’t always easy finding women in media who look like you. Let alone in the fields of academia and literature. With our world seemingly turned upside down, FIERCE is paying homage to Latinas who have worked to empower Black women through their words and thoughts on Afro-Latinidad.

Check out some of our favorite powerful Latinas celebrating our roots below.

Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo is an Afro-Dominican spoken word poet and author who hails from New York City. With each line that she delivers, Acevedo does members of the Latino community a favor by highlighting and praising its African ancestry. Her work lovingly celebrates the influence her Blackness has impressed upon her own cultural traditions. “My first language I spoke was Spanish/ Learned from lullabies whispered in my ear/ My parents’ tongue was a gift which I quickly forgot after realizing my peers did not understand it./ They did not understand me,” she says in her poem “Afro-Latina.” Besides holding an impressive presence on Instagram, Acevedo has addressed TEDTalk stages, appeared on BET and Mun2, and authored books like “The Poet X” and “Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths.”

Follow her on Instagram here.

Sharee Yveliz

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The “I Mean, I Guess” author has an African-American father and a mother who hails from the Dominican Republic. She has spoken openly about feeling isolated from both cultures. Her poem “Negra Bella” is about empowerment and finding your own way.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Danyeli Rodriguez Del Orbe

Del Orbe is a formerly undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic who writes and performs spoken word poetry. Her Instagram page features a collection of her poems, thoughts presented as a stream of consciousness, photos, and memes. Her poetry works to shed light on issues facing the Afro-Dominican community, including the immigrant experience. Braiding her desires to promote resistance and visibility for low-income immigration, Del Orbe’s work is definitely one for any poetry enthusiast to watch.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Ariana Brown

Ariana Brown is an African-American-Mexican-American poet whose experience of being raised in San Antonio, Texas largely inspired her to create the Afro-Latina representation that she often missed out on while growing up. Brown’s poetry takes on so many of the issues Latinas are forced to deal with, including race, ethnicity, culture, and sexual orientation. In poems like “Inhale: The Ceremony,” the Black writer addresses the ways in which African ancestry is often erased and discredited in history as well as in modern cultures.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Yazmerlin Rodriguez

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Through her numerous posts on Instagram, Rodriguez’s use of the social platform proves that as an artist she prefers to dabble in more than just one art form. She models, opens up about her long-term pursuit of education via physical therapy, and writes epic poems that will excite the heart of any Latina who has ever doubted the beauty and power of her rizos. The Afro-Dominicana from the Bronx, New York uses her poetic verses to remind readers that Black Latinos are “proof of survival and resilience” and that “‘Black don’t crack’ is more than just skin deep.”

Follow her on Instagram here.

Venessa Marco

If you have yet to be blessed with the words and observations of this Cuban-Puerto Rican, prepare for an earthquake of emotion that her words will undoubtedly bring out in you. Back in 2014, the Afro-Latina made waves across the Internet when she performed her spoken word poem “Patriarchy.” The piece speaks to the constant sexualization from men and media that so many women often endure. These days, Marco is still stomping down the patriarchy and fighting against colorism, racism, sexism, and other systems of oppression.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Aja Monet

Monet is a Cuban-Jamaican poet, writer, and lyricist from Brooklyn, New York. Back in 2007, when she was 19, she became the youngest poet to ever become the Nuyorican Poets Café Grand Slam Champion. For any Latina finding herself enraged, disheartened, or infuriated by today’s post-2016 election, Monet’s politically driven poems will give you something to lean on. Her work speaks to the everyday struggles of being a Black woman, racism, Trump, sisterhood, solidarity, and displacement. She has two published books, including “The Black Unicorn Sings” and “My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter.”

Follow her on Instagram here.

Tonya Ingram

Ingram became a New York Knicks Poetry Slam Champion back in 2011 and was a member of the 2013 Nuyorican Grand Slam team. The Bronx-born poet has published her work for two books: “Growl and Snare” as well as “Another Black Girl Miracle.” Each and every one of her words is steeped with intention and speaks to the Black girl’s experience with a strong sense of wisdom and self-love.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Black Books To Read To Your Children Right Now

Fierce

Black Books To Read To Your Children Right Now

The Books Wars

Black children of today are being forced to face literally a world of uncertainty and so much pain. Still, that doesn’t mean that the world they look at is without its potentials and that their efforts won’t make an impact.

In light of recent events, we’ve gathered a list of children’s books to read to your children as a reminder that they are powerful and that Black lives really matter.

Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Amazon.com

This poetic and lyrical children’s book for Black readers is a reminder to dream big. Beautifully illustrated and perfect for out-loud reading, this book will instill pride in the radical and cultural identity of those who are Black.

Ages 3–10.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Amazon.com

Published in 1962, The Snowy Day is a children’s book that follows Peter, an African American boy, who takes a walk around his neighborhood after the season’s first snowfall. Written by Ezra Keats this book received the 1963 Caldecott Medal for its artwork and was the first picture book that featured an African American protagonist.

Ages 2 and up

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Amazon.com

This book might be intended for children ages 3 to 7 but it’s an important one for children and people of all ages. Educational and inspiring this book is a dedication to forty Black women in American history. Flip through these pages and learn more about the activists like abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and poet Maya Angelou.

Ages 3 – 7

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

Amazon.com

Teach your little one about self-love and Black beauty with this book about Zuri a girl who has hair with a mind of its own. Fortunately, her dad steps in to take up the phone and help her sort through her kinks, coils for a special event.

Ages 4 – 8

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

Amazon.com

Written by Black actress Lupita Nyong’o, this whimsical book is a celebration of Black skin and beauty. Nyong’o’scharacter Sulwe has skin the color of midnight and yearns to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister but a magical journey in the night sky, fortunately, changes her opinion of everything.

Ages 4 – 8

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson

Amazon.com

Nelson’s children’s book takes flight with one of America’s best-known songs and follows a boy and his family as they live in and engage in the world we live in.

Ages 4–8.