Back in September of 2010 when Devon was 5, in his class, they were asked to create a self-portrait and color it in. At home later that day, Devon, the empath that he is, gazed into his 8-pack of crayons for some time and then looked up at me and said, “Mom….my color isn’t here.”
I choked back tears and replied, “Well, let’s go find it then.” We hustled to the store and perused the various boxes of crayons. I watched as he gently opened the tops of different sizes, staring intently within before slowly closing it up, replacing it on the shelf and reaching for the next larger box containing more colors.
With each box he opened and closed, I began formulating the plan of how to mix paints so we could find the color he was looking for. That would be the easy part. The harder part would be answering the question I was sure was coming of WHY, why wasn’t his color in there and all the things that means.
When he got to the 48 count pack, I watch him trail his chubby finger across the waxy tips of the crayons, row after row, before pausing on one. I held my breath. He pinched the tip of the crayon and slowly drew it up and out of the box. He looked at the tip and placed it against the back of his hand to compare. A smile spread across his face as he rotated the crayon to read the name of the color, “Tumbleweed! I’m Tumbleweed!”
“You’re MY little Tumbleweed, Devon!” I exclaimed, releasing my breath as I hugged him tight, relieved that I would be able to stave off a more challenging discussion about representation until he was a bit older.
Flash forward, excitingly Crayola has come out with their Colors of the World products that celebrate diversity, trading out the single “nude” color for over 24 new skin tone colored crayons! While we can’t get every person’s color, this goes a long way into representing more of the diverse amazingness that we as a people are.
For Black History Month next month, we will again be putting these into the classrooms, hands, hearts and minds of our local elementary students in our Austin-area Pre-K through 3rd grade classes at our Title 1 schools.
Seeing yourself in the people, art, leaders…it matters. It matters in the small things. It matters in the big things. It can drive or crush in a single recognition.
Check out some of last year’s recipients: