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“You So Black” book review

December 5th, 2022


“Wild roses” (photo by Nancy Row Rawley)

You know the history of the phrase, “You So Black”? You’re smart, you probably do, but I didn’t. It started, according to history provided by author/poet/artist Theresa Tha S.O.N.G.B.I.R.D. and illustrator London Ladd, as a “remnant of ‘The Dozens.'”

The Dozens was a game of insults, practiced by enslaved black people, who would ridicule each other on the auction block to discourage potential slave masters. Over the years, it evolved/devolved into an insult competition, to make people feel bad about their skin color.

That’s where the artists picked up, switched it up, and brought us the new picture book (which will be released in January) “You So Black” (Denene Miller Books, Jan. 2023, ages 4-8 — and up — $18.99.) It isn’t just a picture book, it’s a gift. It’s magical. It glows. It takes an old “game” and makes it an affirmation, a joy.

Just a joy, this book.

“You so Black, when you smile, the stars come out. You so black, when you’re born, the god come out.”

London uses a mixed media approach with his work — cut paper, tissue paper, colored pencil and acrylic paint. All of my faves, by the way. Like I said, it glows. And Theresa’s poem has the sweetest rhythm.

Theresa and London will be on tour with the book; please check their websites for details. Peace.


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