When she was in first grade, Kheris Rogers asked if she could spend some extra time in the bathtub.
After kids at school had bullied her for her complexion, Kheris believed soaking in water might lighten her dark skin.
Rogers was one of only four black kids in her Los Angeles classroom. When speaking with CNBC about her experience, she remembered that once her teacher had given her a black crayon to draw a self-portrait. All the other black students, she recalled, were given brown ones.
Even a move to a new school didn't help. As she progressed through the next few grades, Rogers found herself the victim of colorism — other black children made fun of her for being darker than them.
So Rogers' older sister, Taylor Pollard, decided to do something about it.
To make her younger sister feel proud, fierce, and confident, 23-year-old Pollard posted a picture of Kheris with a saying that their grandma used to make them feel proud of their color: "Flexin' in my complexion."
The response was overwhelming. Pollard's original tweet (before it was accidentally deleted) received over 100,000 likes, and she received emails of praise.
The feedback inspired Kheris, and with Pollard's help, the two started a clothing company to celebrate all complexions.
With $100 from their mom, a website they cobbled together using online instructions, and some help with screen-printing, they started fighting racism with a line of awesome T-shirts that featured their grandma's saying in bold type (among other items).
Reflections of a legacy ✨ I am a 10 year old business owner. Support my business by going to https://t.co/uGjPQapVp7 https://t.co/53i2fhOzPV— Kheris Rogers (@Kheris Rogers) 1497934942.0
At 10 (she recently turned 11), Kheris had become the owner of her own business.
And celebrities including Lena Waithe and Lupita Nyong'o are proudly sporting her clothes left and right.
Kheris transformed her experience into an important inspiration for change.
Historically, light skin has been positioned as most desirable in our society. And research has found that this has a major effect on kids who aren't caucasian, leading to bias and maltreatment among small children whose complexions are darker than peach crayons.
Rogers' success is a step for progress and a clear reminder that we should all take a hard look at how racism is affecting younger generations, recognize it's an issue that needs to be at the center of the public consciousness, and embolden our youth in fighting to end it.
Of course, we've also got to celebrate Rogers' come-up. She's already an icon.
I went from being bullied for my skin tone to modeling at Nike headquarters. Ain’t it a blessing? https://t.co/IvkxwJyQMq— Kheris Rogers (@Kheris Rogers) 1508554036.0