Let's talk about BROWN
Let’s talk about 𝗕𝗥𝗢𝗪𝗡. I didn’t always like the color. In fact, I wouldn’t even wear brown clothes until recently because when I was 8yo I proudly wore a Gap outfit (which at the time was a big deal for me!) with brown shorts and a white boy in the neighborhood laughed at me and said it looked like I was half naked.
When I was writing my first set of Gujarati board books, I actually had to call my mom to ask her what the Guju word for brown was. She was unsure herself so we asked Ba next. What struck me about this conversation was that though we are, in fact, brown ourselves there is such an innate discontent with our skin colors that we don’t even speak the word often enough to recall it in our own mother tongue.
I began to wonder, how do we change this? How do we raise a generation of children who love the brown of their cheeks, the cinnamon of their knees, the cocoa of their toes?
We speak love into their ears when others mock them. We surround them with strong brown women and men who persevere. We see to it that they find their own triumphant faces reflected back to them in the books they read. We ensure they play with dolls who have the same copper skin as theirs.
When I was creating my 𝘛𝘢𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘔𝘢𝘢 𝘌𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘗𝘦𝘨 𝘋𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘴, I was told that brown heads were difficult to paint - that keeping them white would make it much easier to see the facial expressions. And isn’t that the way? To maintain the status quo, to allow white to be the default, to allow its convenience to trump our entire existence? But no. I steadily held my ground. I replied, “They are very intentionally brown, there is value and beauty in their skin tones. You will find a way.”
And they did. So when your child (or you) picks up their brown skinned peg doll, whether they are feeling 𝘬𝘩𝘶𝘴𝘩 or 𝘶𝘥𝘢𝘢𝘴, I hope that they will feel comfort in knowing that they are whole humans - capable and complex, and worthy of love through all of life’s experiences!
𝙃𝙤𝙬 𝙙𝙤 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙡 𝙖𝙗𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝘽𝙍𝙊𝙒𝙉?