Eight-year-old Bellen Woodard is the only African-American girl in her third-grade class in a Virginia school. After a moment coloring made her feel unimportant, she had an idea to change the conversation by giving the “skin-color” crayon a new meaning.
Eight-year-old Bellen Woodard is the only African-American girl in her third-grade class in a Virginia school. After a moment coloring with classmates made her feel unimportant, she had an idea how to fix the problem and change the conversation. Her idea has evolved into a movement and business called “More than Peach”, one that is giving people across the country a way to talk about identity, race, and inclusion and inspiring girls, and women, to use their voice for change.
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TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE:
- What adults get wrong about little girls.
- What happened in Bellen’s classroom and how she changed an uncomfortable conversation.
- What is the “More than Peach” project?
- Why Bellen isn’t afraid to speak up.
- What are Bellen’s Palette Packets?
- How Bellen has helped 2000 classrooms with her multi-cultural kits.
- What it means for Bellen to be inducted into the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
- Bellen’s advice from her mom.
- How Bellen dealt with a first grader teasing her about her hair.
- What makes an idea shift and turn into a movement?
- How girls can lead at any age.
(3:04) Every time we would color in school, they always ask for the skin color crayon and we all just knew that, oh the skin color crayon is crayon language for the peach crayon, not really thinking about what we were doing.
(4:00) And then when I told my mom about this, she said “how about you give them the brown crayon next time?” And I said, “I don’t want to do that. Instead, I want to ask what color they want as it could be a number of any colors.” And that’s what I did. And then everyone started actually telling me, “I want the peach crayon or I want the brown crayon.”
(5:14) I want kids to feel like they can be kids and not feel excluded and have the best options. And how I’m doing that is I have my pallet packets, which include multicultural items and my very own, “More than Peach” crayons coming in June. I actually deliver them to schools and now I’m donating to senior centers because they can’t see their families due to COVID-19, because they’re more at risk. Everyone should be able to color.
(5:30) My big goal is to get this not just around the country but maybe even around the world so people can know that they have their own skin color and it’s okay if the peach one or brown one doesn’t actually match you and if it doesn’t, you can actually say something.
(7:02) We went into the Virginia Museum of History & Culture Museum and they decided to put one of my palette packets on display and a More than Peach tee shirt to be at the museum forever and ever. And that’s really good because when I’m older, maybe people can start doing their own More than Peach project, making sure other people know that there’s a skin color for everyone.
(8:58) I need younger kids to stop asking for the skin color crayon, always assuming to get the peach crayon and actually telling them I want this… I actually want the peach crayon.
(10:34) Be you. You are brilliant, be brilliant. And just know that if you want something to change, you should be the change and don’t just hold it in for a long time. If it really bothers you, then make sure you say something because people may not think it’s weird. They may actually think about it and say, you’re right. I could imagine having the same hardship.
(13:19) Maybe God made my hair crazy because I’m also all over the place, my hair is also all over the place. And how many of you will actually have matching personalities with their hair?
- Crayola introduced the controversial “flesh” color in 1949 but renamed it “flesh tint” and “pink beige” before finally settling on “peach”– as it’s known today.
- Virginia Museum of History & Culture
- Bellen’s Target Campaign
- Bellen’s Kits
- Peer Palette Program
- Virginia HJ291- Commending Bellen Woodard.