VERNON HILLS, Ill. — After losing a loved one to suicide, a mother and son in Vernon Hills are turning their pain into purpose, creating a place where multiracial children can turn to find common ground.
11-year-old Braedon Tolbert has gotten things started with his own YouTube show, although it’s not at all for the celebrity.
Tolbert, whose mother Bianca is Black and whose father is white, is using this platform to put a spotlight on the issues he’s encountered in his life.
“You are too white for the Black kids and too Black for the white kids, so it was just confusion,” Braedon said.
Braedon’s older brother Duke died by suicide a few years ago. His mother Bianca said he had been bullied for his multiracial identity. Duke struggled with it everyday.
“He needed that culture as a Black child because that’s what he identified as,” Bianca said.
Braedon and his mother realized others may be struggling with their identity too, so the two launched their own YouTube channel, called Khaki Colored Kidz, the color Duke used when he described his own skin color.
“That’s why I created this platform because they have no voice. This is like the elephant in the room nobody wants to speak about,” Bianca said.
The show features kids from multiracial backgrounds with subject matter that addresses and embraces their uniqueness.
Every segment is geared toward enhancing a child’s self-esteem. There is also a history lesson focusing on successful people who look like them.
“If they don’t like being Black, they can embrace being Black and seeing the good sides of being Black,” Braedon said.
Katy Moore’s children, Riley and McKenzie, are new to the show. Just participating in the program has been beneficial for her children.
“I think that it’s instant camaraderie and safety, where it’s like these kids are just like you,” Moore said.
Tolbert does not have a background in television production, but she does it all for Braedon’s show, from script writing to makeup. It’s her mission to show children there is a place where they can feel safe.
“So if I can catch a little kid 4 or 5 years old and instill in them that there are different people and it doesn’t matter what their skin tone is, where they come from, whether they’re rich or poor, that they’re still a person,” Tolbert said.
For Braedon, he too hopes the show sends a message for all kids to embrace their true selves.
“I want them to take away that no matter what, they still have a part in this world and that they are loved by someone,” Braedon said.
Khaki Colored Kids is in need of funding, and those interested can donate at Cash App $khakicoloredkidz or go to indiegogo and search “khakicoloredkidz.”