Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Whitewash by Ntozake Shange

This is a story about a young African-American girl named Helene-Angel. Her and her brother, Mauricio, were walking home from school and they got stopped by a group of white males. Mauricio is beaten up pretty badly and they spray painted Helene-Angel so that she is white. After the incident there is a lot of publicity and Helene-Angel does not want to come out of her room or go to school because she is ashamed of what has happened. She is embarrassed for herself but she also feels that she has embarrassed the world. When she finally decides to come out she sees all of her friends from school and they walk to school with her.

I loved this story! I wasn't sure what this book was going to be about and it totally surprised me. It was really hard to read this book and not get emotional because it is such an amazing story and it is based off of true events. I think this book really made me step back and think about how people in our country look at race and what they believe. In the story, when the boys are spray painting Helene-Angel, they are yelling things at her about being white and being American and I found this to be very interesting. Why is it that people still see white as being American? Obviously, there are plenty of Americans who are not white, yet so many people view it as being a characteristic of American. This book was really hard for me to read because it made me realize that as much as people want to believe that there are no racial issues and that everyone is equal, that's not how it is and I think it is important to understand that. For children, I think this book is very powerful and I think that it would be hard for children to understand completely what is happening and what it means but I definitely think it would be a great book for children to read so they can begin to get an understanding of these issues. The illustrations do a great job of bringing the words to life in this story and I think that this would be very beneficial for children because even if they don't fully understand what they are reading or what is being read to them, they can see the illustrations to help them understand.

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