Whitewash by Ntozake Shange and illustrated by Michael Sporn, published in 1997 by Walker and Company, is the inspiring and heart breaking tale of a racist and brutal attack on a young African American girl named Helene-Angel. While walking home with her older brother Mauricio, Helene-Angel was brutally attacked by a gang of older white men who painted her face white, telling her it would help her be ‘White’ or ‘American, while other beat up her older brother.
This is a inspiring and tragic story that teaches children about racial injustices and how to to come together in order to overcome them. Helene-Angel’s bravery of coming out of her room to find her friends there to help support her is truly remarkable. I would recommend this story to be read with children specifically ages 7-11 to help show some of the horrible and horrific acts of racism that was the unfortunate reality of too many African Americans in order to help teach the next generation to prevent these acts from continuing.