The United States has a population of just over 331 million people; people of various races, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds. Having such diversity is what has made the U.S. a unique and wonderful ‘melting pot’.
Nonkululeko Kunene Adumetey, a Chicago State University Master’s graduate and a native of Eswatini who resides in Chicago, has recently published a children’s book that celebrate skin tone diversity. The book teaches Children about the beauty of different skin colors and why diversity matters. “I Celebrate My Skin” provides positive images, messages, and anecdotes that one’s skin tone is worth appreciating, and that diversity and inclusion are strengths.
“It is so important that we teach young people to have a true appreciation for themselves and their skin color,” said Adumetey. “Particularly for people of color, they are introduced to negative images of men and women who are also of color, and this impacts them and how they perceive themselves.”
Coming from South Africa, Adumetey can relate somewhat, as Swaziland and South Africa remained under control from English and Dutch settlers respectively for decades. Through the perseverance of the late Nelson Mandela, South Africa gained its independence in 1994. While there are still struggles with regard to race, diversity, and inclusion, significant strides have been made since apart heid was outlawed.
Coming from humble beginnings, her journey took her from eSwatini, to Canada, at the age of 16 where she attended the last 2 years of high school. Post high school, she moved to the United States to attend college in Missouri. She later moved to St. Louis, where earned her Master’s degree in Public Health at St. Louis University. Then later to Chicago where she obtained her second Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems at Chicago State University. Throughout her journey, she always had support from family and strangers who took a chance with her. “How I have been able to migrate from my home country to where I am today, is nothing shy of a miracle,” said Adumetey.
Adumetey said her book embraces the concept of Ubuntu, a South African philosophy that is rooted in groups and community. Ubuntu means ‘I am, because you are.’ “It really touches the core of humanity in that we are all humans,” she said. “We have a heart, we have a mind, and we are all connected. It is important to understand and embrace that connection because together as a human race we can achieve the unimaginable.”
It is the core principles of Ubuntu that Adumetey inspires to support and donate her book to local communities. Her first donation in the South Side of Chicago was collaborating with Future Ties, a local organization that is committed to making a difference and creating a future path for Children and Youth in the South Side. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to donate my books in support of the amazing mission and vision of Future Ties,” Adumetey said.
In a society where smartphones, video games, and reality TV have captivated the attention of many young people, it is refreshing to have organizations such as Future Ties to help re-write the young people’s narrative. Adumetey’s book is a living example of a child from rural Africa changing the narrative to inspire others. The book will inspire young minds to learn to embrace themselves, understand that they are enough, and have a lot to contribute to this world just the way they are. It is uplifting to have a book that brings solid and wholesome values back to the forefront. “I Celebrate My Skin” accomplishes this.
Nevertheless, do not think Adumetey is ‘comfortable’ with this accomplishment.
“I hope one day to build a hospital in my native country that will cater to the rural area where I grew up to help reduce the disease burden of HIV/AIDS prevalence,” she said.
“Being able to take what I’ve learned and use it to improve the quality of lives and healthcare outcomes for so many people would truly be a dream come true for me.”