I See Color: An Affirmation and Celebration of Our Diverse World

HarperCollins. May 2024. 40p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063234260.
K-Gr 4–This book takes on a deeply harmful expression often uttered by well-meaning people: “When people say, ‘I don’t see color,’ they think it means that they don’t discriminate against others for how they look. But using this phrase means that the experiences of people of color, their humanness, and the everyday effects of racism are ignored.” For the three collaborators of these pages, “Color is history. Color is our story. I see color.” From the outset, the wording is poetic, but the history is foundational and deep. “I see Smoky Quartz,” appears as paperwork is signed, creating the Alaska Native Brotherhood in 1912, the first to fight for the rights of Tlingit communities and others. Each page after page is just as weighty, with “Warm Beige” for Sue Ko Lee, standing up for Chinese ladies’ garment workers unions and picketing for higher wages, and “Gleaming Stardust” for Madonna Thunder Hawk and Tom Goldtooth protecting Native lands. The colors continue through the century, name by name, including Dolores Huerta, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X., the Black Lives Matter movement of recent times, and naming allies “listening more than they speak.” Every page is an impressive portrait of one or more determined individuals, and brief biographies are listed in the back matter that will send researchers off to learn more. The list of colors alone is an education in a respectful way to address our many differences and similarities, but the lasting impression for children will be that this palette has range, many paths have been partially forged, and that there is more to do.
VERDICT An eye-opening album to be read, cherished, used as a cornerstone for study, or shared across curricula.

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