I like your tone: A celebration of our people’s skin colours


I like your tone: A celebration of our people’s skin colours

A kids’ story dispels myths about race in a fun, accessible and informative way

Mila de Villiers

Sindiwe Magona and Nina G Jablonski’s Skin We Are In, subtitled A Celebration of the Evolution of Skin Colour, dispels archaic, derogatory, colonialist and Eurocentric myths about race in a fun, accessible and informative way.“All children deserve to get the message, as early as possible, that they are perfect as they are, and that the colour of their skin does not have anything to do with their character or ability. It has nothing to do with what they are capable of and what dreams they may cherish or goals they may set for themselves. Skin colour is not a determinant of destiny,”  Magona,said in a LitNet interview recently.
Interspersed with facts about melanin, genes, ancestry and geographic influences on skin colour, Njabulo, Aisha, Tim, Chris and Roshni are given a crash course in the history of skin colour by Njabulo’s uncle, complemented with gorgeous illustrations by Lynn Fellman.When asked why she embarked on the project, Jablonski, an anthropologist, paleontologist and science educator, cites the need for “accessible, authoritative scientific education”  and says that Magona, an acclaimed children’s author, was the only person to help fulfil her vision.
“More than anything I wanted the book to be believable for kids. It had to be written in their voices, for their experiences,” says Jablonski.
“The book is a testament to the inspiration, vision and conviction of dozens of people, who created, edited, reviewed and promoted it because they knew that the children of South Africa and the world needed it."The publishers have already donated a number of books to local schools and libraries, and copies are being distributed by organisations such as Biblionef.This remarkable and necessary book concludes with The Skin Song, composed by the five youngsters, which diminishes the distorted notion that the colour of your skin determines your personality, intelligence and abilities:
Luister goed! Mamela, wena!
Listen carefully, dear friend -
Skin’s the beginning,
It’s not the end.
Maak’ie saak’ie
Makes no difference
Ayitheti nto tu
The special release price of the book, to be published in 10 South African languages, is R99 until June 30; thereafter it will retail for R125. Skin We Are In is available from Van Schaik, Exclusive Books, Bargain Books, takealot.com, Loot.co.za,  the Book Lounge and Clarke’s Books.

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