Miss Zee’s Coloring Book and the invisibility of little black girls

Emily L. Hauser has a good post up today on how hard it is to find children’s books and other kid’s stuff that includes or focuses on children of color. She also talks about the importance of independent media projects like the Kickstarter project featured in the video above – a project by Afro Glitz/Miss Gee to produce a coloring book that features a young black girl, inspired by her daughter, as the main subject.

Miss Gee writes on the significance of the project for her, her daughter, and other families with daughters of color:

Think of one coloring book centered around a puffy-haired character of a darker hue. Can you think of any? I sure could not. When I was a little girl, all that were presented to me were the complete opposite.

I was raised being exposed to…Belle of Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, Tinkerbelle and a countless amount of other [white] characters…Although I still love those classic characters to this very day, there was a phase that I went through as a child where I felt ashamed of my appearance, due to the various media that was always presented to me. I do not want my daughter to end up with the same identity issues…

So to combat this issue, I created a puffy-haired character named “Miss Zee.” Miss Zee represents my daughter and all the other little girls who are often left out…

[I have] received an overwhelming amount of positive responses and a request for a line of coloring books that could be purchased… This reinforced the fact that simple media like this is greatly desired.

This is a great project that could really use some support. This is the second time Miss Gee is running this fundraiser. Kickstarters are only funded if the full fundraising goal is reached; the first go-around for Miss Zee’s Coloring Book got a lot of backers but didn’t quite reach its goal.

This time the project is about halfway to it’s $5K goal with 12 days left to go. If you have $5 or $10 to pitch in to support a great product that will make a huge difference to young kids, please donate! Every little bit counts.

I totally identify with what Miss Gee writes about growing up in a media culture saturated with images of white girls and women, and so few of girls and women of color. I remember imagining myself as having blonde hair and blue eyes as a little girl – and I’m far from the only black woman who did that as a girl. No one should have to internalize such self-hatred, especially at such a tender age. It’s especially important to me now that I’m a parent that my daughter and all girls get to enjoy media that reflects who they are – and the diversity of the world (i.e., it’s important for white girls to see that girls of color exist, too!).

Emily puts it really well:

It might seem like a really small thing, this idea of not seeing yourself in coloring books. But when you’re little you absorb everything — and if you’re invisible, you absorb that.

And the corollary of that is that if kids’ media teaches white kids that children of color are invisible, they absorb that too. There’s a long way to go towards creating a more diverse media culture, but supporting independent media projects like Miss Zee’s Coloring Book is a great start!

One Comment

  1. I had never even thought about this before! I think that media is really important, and it’s terrible to hear about black children imagining that they don’t matter because they don’t see black people represented well in the media/ coloring books.