My heart aches when I learn of stories like this. Samara Muir, a 3 year old aboriginal girl, regretfully got her first taste of racism when attending a Disney themed event with her mom. The adorable angel below was waiting in line with her mom, when another woman in line turned to her daughters and uttered:
“I don’t know why that girls’ getting excited for. Anna and Elsa aren’t black.”
Adding insult to injury, one of the daughters turned to Samara to say:
“Black’s ugly and you’re black”
There are no words to describe the level of contempt I have for the bigoted witch that not only has the audacity to spew such hateful rhetoric in front of a 3 year old, but then perpetuates her closed-minded views to her own children. She should be ashamed of herself. I doubt she is. These type of self-righteous ignoramuses rarely ever evolve past the bull they tell themselves.
This particular story hit SO close to home because I know what it’s like growing up without any ethnically-diverse heroes or role models. Though born in the Philippines, my upbringing was in the United States where every last bit of media, whether on TV, movies or print, showed me Caucasian men and women accomplishing great things. Without anyone telling me otherwise, the idea that “you had to be white to succeed”, sunk its claws deep in my developing psyche.
This terrible mindset followed me from childhood and straight into my adolescence; a time when the internet (and specifically AOL) exploded and now I had infinite knowledge at my finger tips. I was bound and determined to be white. After a bit of web-surfing and saving up on my allowance, I even had a plan! I discovered a product called Porcelana, which promised lighter skin with enough use. I bought peroxide and other harsh hair dyes to try and make my hair blonde. I even researched doctors who could perform the cosmetic surgery to make my eyes look rounder. All this effort because society had “taught” me, my skin and features were “wrong“.
Spoiler Alert: none of it worked. I just looked like a Filipino guy with blotchy skin and orange hair who kept opening his eyes too damned wide because I couldn’t save enough money for the plastic surgery. That and my mom lost her mind when I told her what I wanted.
I have a wonderful 3 year old niece who adores the Disney Princesses! Me being the Disney-fiend I am (not to mention the fact that I was a dancer for the House of Mouse for 7 years), LOVES playing Disney Princesses with her. I remember a recent time we were playing and all the princesses she collected so far were all exclusively white. I asked her if she had a Princess Jasmine, Pocahontas or even Mulan. The little thing had NO IDEA what I was talking about. I pulled out my iPhone and showed her videos on YouTube of all the ethnic princesses I felt she was missing out on and her next words almost brought me to tears:
“They look like me! Princesses can be brown?”
UGH!!! I died! I freakin DIED hearing this come from her. So much innocence, already tainted! I was almost in tears but I held them back because I didn’t want her to see how upset I was. I just looked at her with a smile and told her:
“Anyone can be a Princess. The only thing you have to be is special; which you are.”
After that, I promised her we’d watch Mulan, Pocahontas, Aladdin and heck even Lilo & Stitch, just so she can see women of color in her favorite cartoons. I refuse to live in a world where my niece and others like her, grow up thinking any one race or creed is better or more deserving than another.
No one is born with hatred; that’s learned and it’s a lesson my niece should never have to experience.