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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.

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