It comes as no surprise that our communities have been engaged in conversations surrounding race, diversity, equity, and inclusion. In moments like these, it is important to continue those conversations to create effective and long-lasting change.
While there are lots of books, articles, and videos that highlight how to talk about race, Genesis Begins Again brings forward a new conversation surrounding the topic of colorism.
Colorism is typically defined as the preferential treatment of lighter skinned individuals within one racial group. While colorism is not self-contained to the Black community, it is important to recognize the impact that it has on Black community members especially children and teenagers.
“I want to say something, but what? That I think I’m cute? ’Cause I’m not. That I have good hair? ’Cause I don’t. That I’m not dark? ’Cause I am.” – Genesis from Genesis Begins Again
In this complex and gut-wrenching novel, Alicia D. Williams explores the experiences of Genesis, a middle school student who is a darker skin complexion than her classmates and family members. Outside of the cruel words expressed by her peers, Genesis struggles with loving and accepting herself. Williams unabashedly explores some of the most difficult topics and conversations that various youth experience through the lens of colorism.
While these moments in the book are difficult to digest as a reader, it is a gateway to understanding the experiences of those who face discrimination within their marginalized group. Genesis not only experiences discrimination from the outside world because she is Black, but she faces further discrimination within the Black community for having a darker complexion. Genesis has this continuous longing to be a lighter skin complexion with straighter and more manageable hair.
As the world continuously prepares itself to have conversations about race, it is also important to continue conversations about even more complex topics such as colorism. It is easy to assume that children and teenagers are facing race related issues on just one front while, in reality, there are youth who experience it on multiple levels. Like Genesis, they are constantly bombarded with the “correct” images of what it means to be Black and quite often that is synonymous with a certain shade of skin color and a certain texture of hair.
Hopefully with the continued publication of books like Genesis Begins Again, the conversations surrounding topics like colorism become more mainstream. This book and so many others should remind us that Black youth, regardless of skin color or hair texture, should be valued, honored, and appreciated.
Genesis Begins Again
Alicia Williams, author
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 
Formats: Book, eBook, eAudiobook
Thirteen-year-old Genesis tries again and again to lighten her black skin, thinking it is the root of her family's troubles, before discovering reasons to love herself as is.
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#OwnVoices at Richland Library is a way for African American staff to provide thoughtful and well written book reviews, book lists and blog posts to promote African American authors and their work about the African American experience. The series invites our customers to learn one more way we are continuing the conversation in our community and speaking our voice. Find more resources on race, equity and inclusion, here.