I was recently shopping for my children's school supplies, and it dawned on me... it's as simple as a box of colored pencils! What is "it" you ask? IT is the thing some people fear and/or avoid like the plague. IT is what some people, like myself, are dying to talk more about. IT has been inescapable for the past year (unless you live under a rock). IT=RACE. Beyond the word race, I am speaking about racial equity. I'll spare you a multi-page blog about why racial equity is vital to ALL humans. At the same time, there are simple, very basic things we can do to actively take strides towards it, and it starts with a box of pencils.
Remember the good ol' box of Crayola Multicultural colored pencils/markers/crayons? I blew the dust off of these at the beginning of each year to do self-portraits with my students, and tucked them away to be used for the next year. Of course, 2020 brought a more respectful change to the product, renaming them Colors of the World! Whether you agree with the name change or not, the point is simple: the standard brown and peach crayon is just not enough. Sure, you have to buy these separately from the classic and bold colors--baby steps, y'all, but they do exist, and you should have them... we all should.
As a child, I remember the joys of coloring with markers! There was nothing like it... until it came time to color in skin tones. The peach marker always allowed you to see all features while the brown one covered up even the darkest lines. So, I chucked my brown, saving it for animals and such, replacing any person of color with my peach marker. Conspiracy? Maybe. Substituting any skin tone for peach was quite a statement I never realized I was forced to make. Fast forward to 2021. There are millions of children (and adults) who are trying to embrace their identity in a world that continues to stifle it, and a variety of media that represents the different, beautiful skin tones of the world should be standard in every household, classroom, art studio, etc. A child should not have to substitute one color for another because it doesn't represent who they are or what they are trying to create. Providing these (and any other appropriate form of representation) creates the norm, communicating to the child that s/he is the norm (and doesn't have to change who s/he is because a box of crayons says so). As so many of us move forward to face this giant of racism, we often get overwhelmed by the whole war rather than the small battles. Giants have fallen to a stone! Go forth and fight the battle, equipping your child with whatever "colors of the world" weapon, I mean drawing utensil, is desired.
*I have no affiliation with Crayola or the Colors of the World line*