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Local author writes children's book that tackles bullying and colorism

Posted at 6:06 PM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 19:23:20-04

MILWAUKEE — There's a movement taking place in Milwaukee with a message that Every Body and Hue is Beautiful.

La'Ketta Caldwell is the author of the children's book "Khloe's Beautiful Blues."

"The reason I wrote the book is that one of my students came into my office and she was crying, but when she told me why she was crying I couldn't sleep at night," said Caldwell.

That student's tears stemmed from bullying. She moved to Milwaukee from Sudan. She says kids called her names due to the color of her skin.

"I make sense of the world through art and Khloe's Beautiful Blues, her skin, it's a positive spin on blue-black," said Caldwell.

La'Ketta sees the book as a poetic affirmation to girls and women. The illustrations were even made to represent real women in her life that she admires.

"Miss Milwaukee is a mentee of mine and so I was like I need you to be Khloe, the older Khloe. So not only is she in the book, but she'll be reading Khloe on Aug. 11."

That reading on Aug. 11 will happen during the Milwaukee Black Theater Festival. Sheri Williams-Pannell is the co-founder of the organization and the director of Khloe's Beautiful Blues.

"Khloe's Beautiful Blues affirms beauty in every hue, every shape, every size. The creator sees the beauty in us, but we don't always see the beauty in ourselves," said Williams-Pannell.

Not only does this children's book tackle bullying, it also shines a light on colorism, something that has existed for centuries.

"It's a way of discriminating, keeping people in their place, but it's not just an African-American phenomenon. It happens in different cultures around the world, in East Asia, the cast system is based on color," said Williams-Pannell.

La'Ketta also created a curriculum to go along with the book which includes learning life skills through acting as well as a photo shoot at the Mitchell Park Domes.

"I've been finding the beauty within Milwaukee, that natural beauty which is all connected to the play, connected back to the story. How do we, in the midst of our hurt, can we find that beauty again? I wanted when girls or women of different races pick up this book, that they see themselves," said Caldwell.

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