The Sasha and Malia Obama effect is much bigger than the toy industry that’s profiting from the dolls that share their likeness; it’s bigger than the young girls that are bugging their parents for clothing and hairstyles in their likeness.
The effect is bigger than that because Americans, especially African-Americans need those girls to be larger than life. We need those two, beautiful brown skinned girls to remind us of how beautiful ALL of us are. They represent beauty that is not traditionally coveted in mainstream America (and beyond), and by doing that they are telling the world a different story – writing the rules as they go along.
I was really effected by the “color” issue when I wrote this post, as I had just received a text from one of my best friends about skin color discrimination she received in NYC. The text stated that, the previous night, she was standing in line to get into the Pink Elephant in Manhattan – and she, and her friend were denied entrance…why?….the promoter told her – in so many words – that they were not being allowed to enter because her friend did not meet some variation of the brown paper bag test. This is completely beyond me…a lame promoter in NYC gets to decide what shade of brown or black is beautiful and gets to randomly discriminate against people? Really…in 2009?
The Sasha and Malia effect gives me hope, as I choose to believe that the images of those girls will help eradicate the stupidity that some people carry about shades and hues of black and brown.
HOPE that skin color, across the world will stop being some sort of measure that people use to attempt to render people inferior.
Those beautiful girls are a symbol that beauty cannot be defined by a shallow definition; that we can free ourselves of a slave’s way of thinking. The entire Obama family is a message to anyone that’s ever felt left out, or not counted, or have been treated as if they were invisible that they are NOT.
My mother sometimes tells a story that brings tears to her normally strong eyes – she speaks of going to a majority elementary school in the late 50’s – where she was quite literally the only little black girl there – she tells stories of coming home and crying; recounting the fact that none of the other kids would play with her. With pride, she tells me how her Uncle Joe, would walk her to school everyday, and drop her off…and every now and then she would notice, at recess that he was sitting up on the hill watching over her. Uncle Joe was there to let her know that she was never alone. She found out later in life, that he spent most of his lunches nearby, watching over her…he wasn’t always close enough to be seen, but he was there most days – giving a beautiful little black girl a symbol that she was loved, and taking power away from forces that attempted to make her feel that she was not good enough to play with.
The Sasha and Malia effect is taking power away from people that attempt to tell us that we’re not good enough. If Sasha and Malia can help a young girl love her thick, natural hair – that’s the power of their effect. If they can help someone appreciate their full lips, and braided or twisted hair – then they have done everything we could ever hope they could do.
DS Download: It’s amazing the things that you remember from your child hood, that nobody else seems to remember, but the poem below is a poem that my Aunt hung in my cousin’s room for the longest time…I love this poem, it warms my heart because it fights for a young black child’s value in this world. The poem gives me hope for what we will become and thankfulness for where we are today:
I am the black child
All the world waits my coming
All the word watches with interest to see
What I shall become
Civilization hangs in the balance for what I am
The world of tomorrow will be
I am the black child
You have brought me into this world about which I know nothing
You hold in your hands my destiny
You determine whether I shall succeed or fail
Give me, I beg you
A world where I can walk tall and proud
Train me, as is your duty unto me
To love myself
and to build and maintain a black nation.
– Author unknown