#DiversityRocks in 2016: Black History Month

I am a woman of color. But, I refrain from saying it…out loud. I don’t need to. One glance at me and you know my ethnicity. It’s been like that all my life. It just takes one little look. The blinds come down in a Bay Ridge barber shop. Shutting off the view of a super cool vintage model car display from my two young brown sons.

The shock when I — Rochelle Campbell — who recently traveled to Ireland and worked as a Marketing Director walk into an executive’s office and their mouth drops open (literally). All it took was one little glance.

Or, when “cute” little Black Face dolls were put on my desk facing me by my non-Black employer. I was supposed to put them up somewhere. I refused to even touch them and walked out of the office.  I was barely 22 years old at the time.

BlackFace Tin Metal

Being Black, African-American, Caribbean-American, Asian, Indian or any person of color means that every day you leave your house you are judged. Yes, judged. How you walk. The clothes you wear. Your erudition. Everything is used to assess/calculate/ascertain where you may fall in the scheme of things to those that view us.

It gets to the point where you just pause and wait for the non-Black person to enter the building first — without thinking about it. Why? Because you’re on automatic.

As children, we learned through osmosis how to function when in ‘mixed company.’ We added “Miss” or “Mister” before the first name of a non-Black person. Why? It was a sign of respect.

Purging all of these internal, unconscious learned behaviors is TOUGH. So, tough that sometimes we unwittingly pass it on to our children because it’s so ingrained within our own psyches.

However, I’m not telling my fellow people of color anything new…am I?

It is February 2nd, 2016. It is #BlackHistoryMonth. It is a time for reflection, growth, renewal. It is time for new things. It is time for #DiversityRocks.

It is about time something as simple as a doll, a child’s play thing, by the preeminent doll manufacturer in the world to make a doll that reflects little girls of color.

Barbie Diversity_Jan 2016

 

It seemed to start with the Ava DuVernay doll; a gift for an awards show.  However, the demand exceeded all expectations.  While this particular diversity change may be more founded on financial gain, it is a welcome change for hundreds upon thousands of households with children who are not White.

Ava DuVernay_Barbie

I’m going to wrap this up with one final thought (rant).  What the heck is wrong with #BlackGirlMagic?!

The Ava doll is #BlackGirlMagic!  It is empowering.  It is not a label depicting anything superhuman/supernatural.  It is not a rant at all against women of other ethnic origins, or races.  It is simply a way to complement ourselves about things we are proud of about ourselves; achievements we have made.

If a similar hashtag for other races of women are out there that are also magical — so be it.  My mother told me that imitation is the highest form of flattery…

Getting off my soap box now.

Rwandan_Ballet Dancers_BlkGirlMagic

Aren’t these young girls magical?  They radiate joy, confidence and a love of life! #BlackGirlMagic

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