Natasha Díaz was born and raised in New York City. According to her website, her mother is a playwright and her father is a poet. Díaz is Brazilian, Liberian, and Jewish. Díaz’s parents divorced when she was a young child. She experienced racism at a young age, a lot of the time because she did not look like the rest of her mom’s side of the family.
Díaz spoke to the Jewish website Heyalma and said: “Growing up, I was resentful of my Judaism because I [thought] that’s why I’m white. That’s why I don’t look like my family and also I don’t believe in this religion, so it’s taking this other thing away from me that I feel connected to.”
Díaz did have a Bat Mitzvah, but did not feel very engaged with the tradition. However, as she got older she has been able to connect to her Judaism in a more cultural sense.
These experiences inspired her debut YA novel Color Me In.
Before writing her novel, Díaz worked in the entertainment industry as a producer and scriptwriter.
Color Me In is the coming of age story of a girl named Navaeh Levitz. Navaeh is a biracial (black and Jewish) teenager that is white-passing. She is learning to adjust to her parents’ separation and prepping for a belated bat-mitzvah that her father is forcing her to have. The novel is fictional, but loosely based on many elements of Díaz’s own life.
When asked what she hopes readers take away from Color Me In, Díaz answered: “I hope that anyone who reads the book is inspired to reflect on their privileges, whatever they may be, and to activate them to uplift the members of their communities who may not benefit in the same way. I also hope it makes readers feel empowered to take ownership of their identities and pride in who they are and where they come from.”
The book has humor and warmth, but also shows the harsh realities of being insecure in your own identity – something that many people, not just biracial Jews, can relate to.
Color Me In was awarded the Best Young Adult Fiction Book in English at the 2020 International Latino Book Awards.
For more on Color Me In, watch this interview with Natasha Díaz!
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