A Q&A with Dorena Williamson
Why be colorblind when we can be colorfull instead? Speaker, writer, worship leader, and pastor’s wife Dorena Williamson answers this question in her children’s book, Colorfull, scheduled for release by B&H Publishing Group on May 1.
In Colorfull, Imani and Kayla are the best of friends who are learning to celebrate their different skin colors. As they look around them at the amazing colors in nature, they can see their skin as another example of God’s creativity.
This joyful story takes a new approach to discussing race: instead of being colorblind, we can choose to celebrate each color God gave us and be colorfull instead.
Colorfull is a resource parents and church leaders can use to talk with kids about race, and help them understand and celebrate the different skin colors God gave everyone.
Williamson took the time to answer a few questions about how this book can be used in this unique area of children’s discipleship.
My upbringing was graced with interracial friendships, and my parents modeled that as well. As an adult, years of experiencing the joy of a multiracial church began to stir up thoughts of how we could teach a better narrative to our kids than the “colorblind” rhetoric many default to when the topic of racial identity comes up.
So I began to create a story that would use friendship and wisdom personified by a loving grandmother to teach about God’s handiwork in all of creation. Parents diligently teach young children to observe the colors around them, so I felt that was a great lead in to introduce the topic of our racial identity and how that too is a wonderful work of God.
Why is it so important that young children understand God’s creativity in creation, being “colorfull” instead of “colorblind”? How can this story help them understand that message?
Teaching our children to be “colorblind” is not truthful or helpful because it minimizes the gift of sight and God’s glorious work. We can give our children an accurate vision that teaches the marvelous work God did in creating all earth’s people with beautiful color.
I believe children should be taught early on to see everything God made as good, because God said so! A short walk through Genesis 1-2 displays God’s intentionality in creation bursting with vibrant colors. Through the eyes of children, we too can be renewed with wonder. Psalm 104:24 says this:“How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”
We can “amen” that verse as we read and reflect on the words and images in ColorFull!
How can parents use this book to spark conversations about race and color differences with their young kids?
During playtime, the children in ColorFull are amazed by the colors they see. The grandmother models how to capture a teachable moment that reinforces how God gives us wonderful colors, including our skin color.
So, for parents, grandparents, teachers, and aunties, they can look for those ripe daily moments to reinforce God’s intentional work. If you are uncomfortable with the topic of race, see that as an opportunity to grow.
There are wonderful books and resources that can help you deconstruct and learn. Model to your children that being teachable is a lifelong goal.
The “Parent Connection” resource at the end of the book can guide conversations that help children see the image of God in every person’s racial identity. As you spend time with diverse neighbors and friends, remind your children how wonderful it is that God made so many different people. That deserves to be celebrated!
What do you hope parents and their kids take from this story?
I want to recapture the delight in how God created us as a marvelous work (Psalm 139:14). My heart has been broken by the pain of adults who have long struggled with wanting to be a different color. People groups have put down and lifted others up simply because of the color of their skin.
It’s high time for the people of God to lift up a standard of resistance to racial hatred. We have the opportunity to teach our kids God’s truth, that He made each of us in His image, with our beautiful skin colors. All earth’s people are HIS grand design. I hope little ones grow up with that truth sown into their hearts and bear the fruit of unity and justice that God desires.
DORENA WILLIAMSON (@dorenawill) is a bridge builder, speaker, writer, and worship leader who knows the power and beauty of racial awareness. She and her husband, Dr. Chris Williamson, planted Strong Tower Bible Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and have spent more than 20 years ministering to its richly diverse faith community. Dorena and Chris have four children.