“Daddy Why Am I Brown?: A Healthy Conversation About Skin Color and Family By Bedford Palmer II, Ph.D., Illustrated by Winda Mulyasari (2019) – paperback
Recommended ages: 4 to 8
What a wonderful conversation-starter for parents and their children! The story follows Joy, a mixed race girl, and the conversation she has with her dad when she realizes one day that she isn’t the same color as either of her parents. The conversation that transpires is carefully and expertly crafted by the author, Dr. Bedford Palmer, a licensed psychologist that also provides multicultural competence training to individuals and corporations. Joy is biracial, her dad is Black and her mom is identified as “Asian.” However, I inferred that she was Chinese as Joy uses the word “Popo” throughout, which is the Chinese word for grandmother. Mulyasari’s vivid and expressive illustrations add to the charm of the story.
The bonus content that Dr. Palmer includes at the back of the book is such an amazing resource, including a vocabulary list, discussion questions, and activity ideas all related to race and culture. I can’t wait until my biracial daughter and I can start having meaningful conversations about her heritage and identity while using this book as a primary resource for those healthy conversations. (She is currently 1 year and 1 month old!) This book should absolutely be in every daycare and school across the country.
Take-away message: There are so many great lessons to take-away! Here are a couple: 1. Your natural skin tone is a part of your identity, a reflection of your ethnicity. 2. You cannot judge a person’s character based on their skin color alone. “You have to spend time getting to know them!”
TAGS: Black, Chinese, Asian, female lead, mixed race, brown skin, family, nuclear family, father-daughter, self-published, paperback
More About the Author:
Dr. Bedford Palmer is a licensed psychologist and an Associate Professor at Saint Mary’s College of California. He holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and researches issues related to social justice and cultural factors. Dr. Palmer maintains a small private practice in Oakland California, where he works with a diverse clientele and provides multicultural competence training to individuals and organizations. He has ten nieces and nephews and a great many little cousins. Bedford is a self-described huge nerd, who loves sci-fi, anime, and fantasy. He is happily married to the most amazing woman that he has ever met, and he has a dog that is definitely smarter and cuter than yours (at least in his eyes).
A Note From the Author:
I wrote “Daddy Why Am I Brown?” after a conversation with my wife about the difficulty of teaching children about skin color. Teachers and parents sometimes have a hard time explaining things like why people have different skin colors, and what that difference means. As a licensed psychologist and professor who focuses on social justice and culture, I thought that I might be able to help provide some language and context that would allow our kids, families, and educators to better navigate these conversations.
There are many wonderful children’s books that send the message of having pride in your skin, your hair, your family and your heritage. “Daddy Why Am I Brown?” is a conversation about why we have the beautiful diverse skin that we all do. Through this book, I hope to model how to talk about skin color without making comparisons to consumables like food, building understanding of the link between skin color and the geography of our ancestors, and begin the process of understanding of why skin color is not a valid approach to understanding who we are to each other.