Black is a Rainbow Color

You know that tip of the iceberg image where on the water's surface you see a small iceberg but when you look underwater the iceberg is actually gigantic? This book reminds me of that. It's filled with metaphors which begins with, "Black is...," and you could read through it once and think that it's just a nice book about Black identity. But when you really study it, it's so much more than that. There are references to important historical events, lines from poetry by Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes, lyrics from musicians who have made important contributions in Black history, and so much more explained in the Afterword. Take the time to study these references to enrich your students' understanding of the beauty and struggle of Black American contributions in history, culture and experience.
-Dena

Social Justice Activities:

  1. Study what the author chooses to reference about her life experiences and the ways she conveys her identity through metaphors. Use this text to inspire poetry writing, such as, "I Am," poems.

  2. Explore how artists have used music to express experiences. Students choose a song from the author's playlist to analyze and then co-construct knowledge by discussing the themes of the song with their classmates.

  3. Words matter. Study the Ethnonyms in the back of the book. Explore how as humanity progresses over time, language and words associated with identity can change.

  4. Study the historical references in the back of the book and analyze how the author was able to use poetry to convey historical events.

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Identity 1. Students will develop positive social identities based on their membership in multiple groups in society.

Identity 4. Students will express pride, confidence and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of other people.


Diversity 8. Students will respectfully express curiosity about the history and lived experiences of others and will exchange ideas and beliefs in an open-minded way.

Diversity 10. Students will examine diversity in social, cultural, political and historical contexts rather than in ways that are superficial or oversimplified.


Justice 15. Students will identify figures, groups, events and a variety of strategies and philosophies relevant to the history of social justice around the world.


Action 16. Students will express empathy when people are excluded or mistreated because of their identities and concern when they themselves experience bias.

Reading Strategies:

Author's Purpose: This book is a great mentor text for explaining how some authors write to express deep feelings.

Compare Genres: There are references to poems like Langston Hugh's poem, "Dreams" when the author says, "Black are the Dreams and raisons left out in the sun to die." Also, Maya Angelou's, "Black are the birds in cages that sing."

Figurative Language: This book is full of metaphors that begin with "Black is..." Analyze metaphors like, "Black is the power of a movement in pain."

Book Details:
  • Fiction, All Ages
  • Perspectives: Black American
  • Author's stated heritage: Black American
  • Subject Integration: Music, Art, Language (ethnonyms in the back), History

Listen to the Author explain the title

Explore Black Music

The Author created a playlist of Black Music to go along with the book.


Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain