Local author writes children’s book about bullying and colorism

MILWAUKEE – There’s a movement taking place in Milwaukee with the 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 to my office and she was crying, but when she told me why she was crying, I couldn’t sleep at night,” said said Caldwell.

This student’s tears were from bullying. She moved to Milwaukee from Sudan. She says the children called her by name because of the color of her skin.

“I make sense of the world through art and Khloe’s Beautiful Blues, her skin, it’s a positive take on blue-black,” Caldwell said.

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

“Miss Milwaukee is a mentee of mine and I was like I needed you to be Khloe, the older Khloe. So not only is she in the book, she’ll be reading Khloe on August 11.”

This August 11 reading will take place 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 all hues, all shapes, all sizes. The creator sees the beauty in us, but we don’t always see the beauty in ourselves,” Williams-Pannell said.

Not only does this children’s book address bullying, but it also shines a light on colorism, something that’s been around for centuries.

“It’s a way to discriminate, to keep 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 system caste is based on color,” Williams-Pannell said.

La’Ketta also created a program to accompany the book that includes learning life skills through acting as well as a photo shoot at the Mitchell Park Domes.

“I found the beauty of Milwaukee, this natural beauty that is all about the play, all about the story. How can we, in the midst of our pain, find that beauty again? I wanted when girls or women of different races take this book, let them see each other,” Caldwell said.

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Lola R. McClure