Book Review – Shades of Black

chris-f-adult Adoption STAR’s Chris Fancher shares a book review he authored that may be of interest to families touched by transracial adoption.

First published in 2000, “Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children” by Sandra L. Pinkney and Myles C. Pinkney communicates both visually and poetically the concepts of individuality and self-image to African-American children. This book uses extraordinary photographs that coincide with artistic descriptions: “I am the midnight blue in a licorice stick / and the golden brown in sugar.” This book is a phenomenal tool for discussing diversity with children and is an amazing resource to develop a child’s self-image.

Despite “Shades of Black” receiving heavily positive reviews (a rating of 4.5 of 5 stars on both Amazon and, some readers expressed concern on this book’s affects on diversity in America, specifically regarding the “One-Drop Rule.”

For those unfamiliar with the One-Drop Rule, here is a link to a website with more information.

Essentially, the One-Drop Rule is a sociological concept that involves combining all American blacks into a single race. This can be problematic, in that such a classification system ignores the culture (or cultures) and ethnicity (or ethnicities) that are unique to each individual American black person. Critics claim that the repeated use of the phrase, “I am Black, I am Unique” involves grouping the children pictured in this book into a single black race. As a result, these critics claim that the book is doing more harm than good when it comes to the issue of diversity.

Regardless of opinion, “Shades of Black” is a groundbreaking children’s book that creates conversation on the important topics of race, diversity, and self-image for children. Many multicultural/multiethnic families, be they adoptive families or biological families, proudly have this book as a part of the family library and use it as an educational tool for their children.

“Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children” is available for loan at the Adoption STAR Library.