This morning when I went on Instagram and opened my aunties story I saw a post by @Aljazeeraenglish about the reactions little black children have when learning Disney’s little mermaid Ariel is black. That now Ariel has the same skin colour as they have. Their genuine reaction. Their words. Their eyes. It all brought tears to mine.
Tears running down my cheeks I continue the search and look for more reaction videos. I am deeply touched and so happy and grateful for these children that they can see theirselves on that screen. That they can be theirselves, because there are more versions like them. That they don’t have to doubt theirselves or feel insecure living in a world that fails to represent them. I am one of those girls. I am happy for little Tashmyn, “Tashmyntje”, as they still call me today, at age 29. Tashmyntje that at her 5th birthday party just wanted to be face painted a ladybug. But then after being asked “why” by another kid, looked around at the other girls and saw they all had pink, glitter and princesses. I remember it making me feel sad, insecure, unsure because I felt I had to do the same as the other “normal girls”. I couldn’t be that what I wanted to be. So I thought. 5 years old, and I still remember removing myself from the rest. Going away to isolate myself, to cry. 5 years old and look what some face paint and peer pressure can do.
Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. Don’t tell me those are little things and that they won’t make a difference. Don’t tell me you don’t see colour. Or that it has been like that since forever. Don’t ask me why we have to change things that were “good” or always “worked”.
Don’t come at me. Turn around, stand with me and see what I see. Feel what I feel.
I remember my father coming upstairs to look for me. He asked me why I was crying and why I wasn’t with the rest of the people at my party. I said I wanted to be a ladybug. I don’t remember telling him the princess part. Maybe I did, but his response was all that mattered. “You can be whatever you want to be”. He dried my tears and we joined the party again, going straight for the face painting . Tashmyntje the Ladybug. That memory is also my first memory of feeling brave, proud and sure of being myself. Just as I am. It was liberating.
To all the little girls. Be who and whatever you want to be. You are loved just as you are. And to all the little black girls. If you don’t see it yet, don’t be discouraged. Be the first. YOU can be the first and an example to other black girls. Just yesterday seeing the four black women win their Emmy paves a beautiful path to many others to come. Representation matters!
To you little Black Excellence.. go and shine your light.