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Penguin Random House Colombia
Penguin Random House Colombia

Celebrating Afro Hair

Colombian soap opera actress Indhira Serrano publishes 'Rosa la Crespa,' a children's book celebrating Afro heritage

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Rosa is a young girl whose hair seems untamable. Her family tries to help her, they advise her to braid it, straighten it, hide it and even shave it. But nothing she tries makes her really happy, but little by little Rosa will find a different solution to what others expect of her.

With the aim of encouraging many girls to accept their hair and African heritage, Colombian actress Indhira Serrano, known for her appearances in soap operas likeTelemundo's La traición and El clon, just published Rosa la Crespa, an illustrated book aimed at children, but that can also be read by adults. It not only serves to help children accept their roots, starting with their hair, but also invites them to reflect on issues such as racism, self-acceptance and the importance of respect for what is different. 

"Who decided that my hair if it's straight then it's good? Who said it's bad just because it's frizzy hair?" asks little Rosa. Finally, she comes to the conclusion that her hair is hers and there's nothing wrong with it, "because if it was born with me, it's because it's very good," she says.

Indhira Serrano, by De Jorasere - Wikipedia
Indhira Serrano, by De Jorasere. Photo: Wikipedia

"Serrano's success lies in not using language that underestimates the child audience. Although he chooses simple words and a plain tone, he does not give his readers the possibility of feeling unequal. Here she speaks to everyone equally," observes book critic Santiago Díaz in Infobae

Known in Colombia for her activism for multiculturalism and the fight against racism and discrimination, Serrano, an Afro-Latina, began her career as a speaker and activist six years ago with the Reconstructing Imaginaries Project, a series of workshops and conversations that bring together women from all strata and backgrounds to foster collaboration and self-acceptance. Although the starting point was Afro-Latina women, the project has been expanding to all vulnerable communities, from LGBTQ+ to Indigenous and disabled. 

The idea of writing a children's book also arose six years ago, when she was asked to leave her hair natural during a photoshoot in Caracas. Serrano says she cried for fear that her hair would get frizzy. But then she never wore it any other way. She accepted that her afro hair was beautiful because the universe had made her that way. 

The story is written in rhyme to make it more relatable to children, and is accompanied by illustrations by Hanna Ramirez, an Afro-Colombian illustrator.

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