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Why Representation For Little Black Girls Matter

Art + Culture

Why Representation For Little Black Girls Matter

Lack of representation on screen is simply unacceptable. People of color, especially us black people are tired of it at this point. That’s not to say, there isn’t progress being made. Creatives Jordan Peele, Ava Durvernay, and Oprah are making waves for upcoming artists to share their talents with the world. Some black artists are taking it upon themselves to put out projects, telling stories they feel need to be told. This need for more representation goes far beyond the artist. Its also about who they are telling their stories to and what legacy they are leaving behind for generations to come. Children are always watching. Especially the little black girls out there, they need representation for a couple of reasons.

They Need To Know That Their Experiences Are Valid

Without the visual representation of black characters on screen, little girls will feel left out and ignored. I remember being a young teen during the mid-2000s when shows like That’s So Raven and The Proud Family were two of the hottest shows on Disney Channel. Watching singer/actress Raven Symone play a teen with psychic powers or Penny Proud (played by Doctor Dolittle star Kyla Pratt) having a close bond with family and friends made me feel that not only I can get through high school but also see that I’m unique as well. Then when those shows disappeared, more programs took their place but had little to no people of color. It was as if we were cut out of the conversation. It felt as though our time for fun was up. We no longer mattered.

Seeing your kind on screen makes you feel that you are heard and seen. Little girls need to know that their lives, their emotions, and what they go through in life are valid. They need to see characters that help them see their uniqueness just like all the other kids. Anything less is simply a disservice to them. With today’s technology and an ever-growing black and brown population in this county, there’s simply no excuse for the lack of representation anymore. The more black writers, directors, and actors are hired in the creative fields, the greater the chance of a black girl having her story told the right way.

Little Girls Need Role Models To Inspire Them

Hollywood often depict black women in pretty harmful ways. She’s either an uptight church lady, a loud and hypersexualized girl living in the hood or portrayed as the abused low-income woman trying to survive. And while those images hold some truth, little black girls need to see variety. Not all black woman are from the hood, like hip-hop or raised Christian. Some black girls are Muslim, raised middle class, or love reading the newest Marvel comic books. They need to see black characters that are intelligent and can succeed at just about anything she sets her mind to. 

Growing up during the 90s, I remember watching TV programs with kids that look just like me. Comedy shows like All That, Kenan & Kel, and Sister & Sister not only showed that being a black actress was possible but that black people can have interesting lives and become successful. Those characters and performers gave me something to aspire to. Little black girls today should be able to see characters achieve their dreams, overcome obstacles, and become legends and heroes. Today with many black creators getting involved in television and film, especially in Hollywood, girls have a better chance of seeing more representation on screen. Characters like Princess/entrepreneur Tiana from Princess and The Frog, an aspiring doctor and pet rescuer Dottie from Doc McStuffins and Shuri from Marvel’s Black Panther are fantastic examples of strong black girls that work hard, are highly intelligent and independent. They’re complex characters with enormous depth and not any of the stereotypical cardboard cutouts of what society paints black women to be.

It’s 2019. No person of color should be left out in the world of art and storytelling. Children are individuals who have a voice and place in this world. Little black girls are often overshadowed and it’s time that ends. It’s about time they see themselves in various mediums of art so they can be inspired to say “I can do that too.”

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