Tag Archives: biracial

“Mio the Beautiful”: An interview with author Kinota Braithwaite

2 Mar

Representation is a powerful thing. When I was a child growing up in the United States, I did not see many books or shows that had characters that looked like me. As a result, I often felt like an “other” and did everything I could to try and fit in with the majority. I did not like “looking different.”

Several years ago, when I watched the movie “Wonder Woman” in the theater, I literally gasped and felt like cheering in the opening scenes when women are shown as powerful warriors. I thought, “This is the power of feeling represented.” I again had a similar feeling when I watched “Crazy Rich Asians.” It felt freeing to see so many people who looked like me in a major movie. Recently I had the experience of reading the picture book “Eyes That Kiss In the Corners” and was overcome with emotion as I read it out loud to my daughter. No children’s book I had read had ever stated that Asian eyes were beautiful before.

I’m grateful that in recent years many wonderful children’s books have been published featuring a wider range of cultures, nationalities, experiences, and ideas. In the United States, we are seeing more diversity in books.

I do not think that children’s books in Japan have quite as much diversity or representation… yet. But one book is giving me hope: “Mio the Beautiful“, by Kinota Braithwaite. Kinota decided to write this book after his young biracial daughter was bullied at her school in Japan. Unlike some other parts of the world, classrooms in Japan are still mostly ethnically homogeneous, so it is easy to stand out if you look different. This book tackles the issue of racism in a gentle way and encourages teachers and children to be kind to one another.

I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Kinota and his daughter over Zoom. I am not comfortable or a natural in front of the camera, but I hope you will watch and enjoy. The best part of the video is Kinota and his daughter Mio reading their book out loud together in English and Japanese (starting at the 7:00 mark).

Thank you Kinota and Mio!

You can purchase their book here:

  1. Amazon (US)
  2. Amazon (Japan)

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