Iconic company Crayola has released a 24-pack of crayons in its widest array of skin tones yet. Not just shades of brown and tan, but colors chosen to represent actual skin colors found around the world. The set, titled Colors of the World, sells for $2.49 on the company’s website.
Madison Wilson, a student at Santa Ynez Valley Elementary School, would probably draw her self-portrait with the new “Deep Golden” crayon. The 7-year-old found out about the new crayons and asked her mom if they could buy several sets for her school. Wanting to donate enough for all of her classmates, Madison’s mom, Vashti Wilson set up a GoFundMe.
“I’m raising money to donate multicultural crayons and books with diversity to my school,” says the landing page of the GoFundMe, which has raised $39,006 out of its new $40,000 goal (the initial goal was $25,000) at the writing of this article. “Sometimes, there are only books with peach kids, and there should be books with brown kids like me too.”
According to a 2016 survey of more than 3,200 children’s books published in 2015 by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, only 14 percent of those books, nearly all illustrated, featured a non-white main character. This reflects the fact, supported by industry data from publisher Lee & Low, that over 80% of the children’s book industry, from authors to publishing executives, are also white.
Further, a survey of public-school libraries in seven states shows that they tend to be even whiter than the publishers. From just one-half of 1 percent to 3 percent of picture books in elementary school libraries feature a non-white main character, even in white-minority schools. That means multicultural crayons represent a real need in public schools, allowing children to draw themselves and other kids with skin colors reflecting the reality of racial diversity in the U.S.
And the GoFundMe is still going strong.
“There have been many exciting developments since our last update,” reads a July 26 entry on the GoFundMe page. “NBA player, Aaron Holiday of the Indiana Pacers, made a sizable donation to Madison’s campaign, and has agreed to be the first celebrity guest on Madison’s new educational show, Madi’s Corner (exciting details to come shortly!).”