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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Am I Black or Am I White? is a children’s social issues picture book written by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Jasmine Mills. Tara always felt a bit hesitant about going to school because of her mixed parentage. Was she black or was she white? While most black kids and white kids were fine with her being who and what she was, there were always some children who wanted to give her a hard time in school. It seemed wrong for her to feel compelled to chose her mom’s race over her dad’s or vice versa. She loved both her parents and loved how they all made such an awesome and loving family. Tara just knew she was tired of being teased and hated seeing so much hostility over race in school, in the playground and on the street. Her mom and dad had the answer, of course, and it was pretty simple. If she was kind to everybody and lived by the Golden Rule, she would be part of the solution. Following God’s message was the answer.
Am I Black or Am I White? sends a moving and eloquent message to kids about an issue that often doesn’t really matter much to young people -- someone’s race or color or ethnic background. Unfortunately, the prejudices of some parents or adults can affect some children, and mixed race kids often bear the brunt of those misguided feelings. I love the positive vibes this book sends to kids of all races, mixed or not, as well as to their parents and caregivers. This book offers adults a perfect opportunity to let kids discuss their feelings about race and ethnicity in an accepting and caring environment. The Golden Rule answers so much here, and does so very eloquently. Jasmine Mills’ artwork is outstanding. I especially like her use of child models of all sizes and ethnic backgrounds. Her panel showing Tara’s joy at being liberated from those fears as she runs happily with her arms outspread speaks volumes. Am I Black or Am I White? is most highly recommended.