Last week, I discovered the blog My Name Is JuJuBe. I contacted the blogger (Joanna) and asked if she'd be interested in writing a guest post for Diversity Ink. She is in the process of working on ideas for an original post for DI. In the meantime, she gave me the OK to use any of her previously written blog posts.
The following, A Girl Like Me (Video), was posted by Joanna on her blog on June 18, 2010:
This is a video that was made in 2007 by a teenage girl named Kiri Davis. It discusses the standards of beauty than young Black women feel like they need to conform to in order to "fit in." It angers me to see that these young women are made to feel less attractive because of the color of their skin, or the texture of their hair. It shows the power of the white supremacist system upon the way Black children view themselves
Black children are constantly bombarded by images of Black people as being somehow inferior, of being less. They are told consciously AND subliminally that looking more white makes a person more beautiful physically, mentally and emotionally. This is such a disturbing message for children to receive. Every child deserves to feel beautiful. Every child needs to hear positive reinforcement, to be told that they are smart, and that they are good people. And, unfortunately, the message being given to Black children is the exact opposite.
Is it fair to a Black child that nearly all of the people they see on television are white? That the images they see of Black people in the media are overwhelmingly negative? Absolutely not!
I remember a few years back, I worked at the Pomonok neighborhood center in the after school program. Nearly all of the children who attended the program were Black children. Yet the books they were given to read featured overwhelmingly white characters, and the dolls they were given to play with with were usually blond haired and blue eyed.
(White) people seem to think that this does not have an effect on children, that is doesn't matter WHAT race a doll or a character in a book has. Yet, when new toys and books for the children were brought in featuring darker skin tones, the kids were overjoyed. They LOVED having characters to relate to who looked like them. They enjoyed playing with dolls that shared their skin tones. For the first time, the little girls and boys were engrossed in books about characters that they could relate to. They no longer looked at reading and learning as a chore. They looked forward to reading about historical Black figures. They enjoyed stories about Black children, and absorbed the messages the books were relating more readily. They began to express more pride in themselves.
It sickens me to think about the overwhelmingly negative messages we are transmitting to young children about Blackness as it relates to beauty, intelligence and morality. I believe that we have a responsibility as a society to promote positive images of Black people, not only to Black children, but to all children. Children learn VERY early on about racism and the society hierarchy that skin color places individuals on. We need to counter that programming. We need to show children that beauty comes in all shades, that morality is universal, and that intelligence has nothing to do with skin color.
A while back, a friend and I had a discussion about children's television programming. We thought it would be a great idea to start a network for children of color, a network that would show Black children in a positive light. He has a 3 year old Black daughter, and he wants her to grow up feeling beautiful and special. He does not want her to get the idea that she is somehow less because she is Black. He believes that children's programming that shows more Black children would really enhance the learning experience of Black children. We considered actually attempting to do something related to this idea, but we had no idea how to go about it. But, it is would definitely be a step in the right direction towards erasing the programming children receive early on regarding race.