Bronx author teaches children to appreciate their differences

Author Sulma Arzu-Brown embracing a copy of her biligual book, ‘Bad Hair Does Not Exist!/Pelo Malo No Existe!’.
Photo courtesy of Sulma Arzu-Brown

One Bronxite is helping children to learn how to appreciate their differences in a recently published book that addresses self-image matters.

A community leader with an extensive resume, Sulma Arzu-Brown has authored a children’s book that centers on positive awareness for young readers.

Written in English and Spanish, her book, ‘Bad Hair Does Not Exist!/Pelo Malo No Existe!’ appeals to African American, Afro-Latino and biracial children of Afro-descent who are often subjected to name-calling due to their hair.

The terms ‘bad hair’ or ‘pelo malo’ are often used describing hair with a curlier texture or possessing a thick and coarse density which can contribute to a child’s low self-esteem.

The book’s mission is to empower youngsters by providing them a plethora of positive terms to describe their hair, while at the same time teaching them the importance of respecting and appreciating the differences in other children.

Her work depicts women of various ages, professions and skin tone to expose children to the world’s diversity.

Arzu-Brown said the inspiration for her book came to her one day while picking up her daughter, Bella-Victoria, from day care and noticing her sporting tasselled hair.

When she inquired about the condition of her daughter’s hair, the day care operator suggested to Arzu-Brown that she chemically treat her daughter’s hair to straighten it, as it was ‘pelo malo’.

Arzu-Brown had a heart to heart with the operator explaining how detrimental the term can be and both agreed to help elevate the children’s self-respect.

She penned the first draft of ‘Bad Hair Does Not Exist!/Pelo Malo No Existe!’ in Spanish and contacted her friend, Isidra Sabino to illustrate the book.

The book was officially launched in October 2014 and published through Afro-Latino Publishing, a self-publishing deal made possible through Sabino..

In addition to being a published author, Arzu-Brown serves as the New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s director of operations and sits on the Hunts Point Community Advisory Board.
Photo courtesy of Sulma Arzu-Brown

Aa a proud ‘Garifuna’ (black Caribbean) woman, Arzu-Brown was born in Honduras prior to her family moving to the Woodstock neighborhood at age six.

In 2003, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication with a minor in Spanish from Lehman College.

Following graduation, Arzu-Brown pursued work as a production assistant for the ESPY Awards, Image Awards and Essence Awards before being hired full-time as a talent coordinator for the ESPY Awards.

“Something within me felt incomplete and I wanted to understand who I am and how I could become much closer to the community and my culture,” Arzu-Brown said.

Following her heart, she went to work as a job developer for BronxWorks helping formerly incarcerated fathers find employment opportunities.

During her time at BronxWorks, Arzu-Brown discovered the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc., a non-profit organization serving as an advocate, a resource and a forum for the Garifuna people living in New York City.

Arzu-Brown now serves as the New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s director of operations and is tasked with providing quality networking events, seminars and fund raisers which seek to establish long lasting partnerships with members in support of Hispanic businesses and the community NYCHCC serves.

In addition to her work with NYCHCC, Arzu-Brown is a Hunts Point Community Advisory Board member.

Last March, Arzu-Brown received the Entre Nosotros Award from former Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo and Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo in recognition of her book and was honored by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli last October for her work with NYCHCC.

Arzu-Brown’s newest book, ‘My Best Friend Likes Boy More Than Me’ is slated for the end of February 2016 release, she said.

For more information about Arzu-Brown and her work, visit www.badhairdoesnotexist.com.

Arzu-Brown’s book, ‘Bad Hair Does Not Exist!/Pelo Malo No Existe!’ proclaims a message of self-empowerment and respecting others people’s differences to its readers.
Photo courtesy of Sulma Arzu-Brown

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