Professor Bedford Palmer’s Second Children’s Book Addresses Race

Department Chair of the Counseling Department Bedford Palmer II, PhD, has become a beloved children’s author. After receiving raves on his first book, Daddy, Why Am I Brown: A Healthy Conversation About Skin Color and Family, Professor Palmer is engaged in a Kickstarter campaign to help him create and distribute his second book, Black Joy: A Healthy Conversation About Race.

“My first book was very well received,” Palmer began. “The people that I shared it with mostly loved it. I received lots of feedback from folks who bought the book that their children enjoyed it and that it was their favorite storytime book. I also received feedback from many adults who wished that there was a book like mine to help them understand these issues when they were growing up.”

Professor Palmer’s in-progress book, Black Joy, picks up on the family of characters from the first book, centering on the multiethnic child Joy after she talks to her father about her skin color. “In my first book, the conversation covers types of skin color, the connection of skin color to Joy’s family ancestry, and where her ancestors originally lived, while disconnecting skin color from individual behavior or character,” Palmer said. “Black Joy continues that conversation by directly addressing the concept of race, explaining the origin of race, the social rationale for creating race, and the social rationale for the redefinition of Blackness from being an indicator of oppression to being an indicator of strength and resilience.”

“Through Black Joy, I attempt to place race within a historical framework, teaching children that the story of race has not always existed and that this story can be changed,” Palmer said. “In the latter half of the book, race is reframed in terms of identifying with the experiences of love, support, strength, and resilience in Blackness. Joy's parents explained that Black people are more than just the European story. They explain that Blackness is inclusive and that when you change the story to love yourself and your community, you can feel Blackness as Joy.”

Black Joy centers on bringing the family together, and with it Professor Palmer hopes to provide an age-appropriate foundation to help parents and teachers feel confident answering children’s questions about race. “Hopefully, it inspires you to explore your own racial identities further,” Palmer said. “From bedtime stories to diversity and inclusion training, I hope that children and adults will find a use for this story of a little multi-ethnic Black girl asking important questions.”

The Kickstarter campaign runs through Wednesday, Feb. 9. “The campaign has been successfully funded, and I have announced stretch goals so that I can donate more books to schools,” Palmer added. “If readers want to join me in this project, they can back the Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/drbfpalmer/black-joy-a-healthy-conversation-about-race.