I wasn't allowed to play with white dolls when I was growing up. My parents were born and raised in Mississippi during the Civil Rights era. Post-Civil Rights era, they learned to be cordial with whites and forgiving, but they never forgot anything they endured. My mom and I were in Wal-Mart and I saw the veterinarian Barbie. There were no black ones, so I asked if I could get the white Barbie. My mom said no. I whined, "Why not?" She said it was because she didn't have dolls that looked like her when she was a kid. She believed that dolls help young girls with their self-image.
Girls are often told, "You look just like a doll and just as pretty." If there are not any brown dolls, how does a brown skin little girl learn that she is just as beautiful as a doll, too? I remember this. Although I did not fully agree with it at the time, I understood that my mother only felt this way because she grew up in a time period where a strong self-awareness was necessary for a young black girl.
It's funny how big of an impact the little things from your childhood have on you. I didn't think the movies I watched, the music I listened to, or the toys I played with mattered when I was younger. I didn't think it would have an effect on me later in life. Life changing experiences occur daily and most people don't even realize it; at least, I don't.
As I began to write this article, I reflected on moments in my life that seemed insignificant. I realized that these irrelevant conversations and minor occurrences had a part in shaping who I am today. One being the day my first grade teacher told me that I wasn't as good of a student as my older sister, so I decided to dedicate myself to my studies and prove her wrong. Ever since then, I have been invested in my studies.
My mother was a young African American girl during one of the most crucial periods in African American history; it is obvious from her demeanor that her experiences of the time influenced her. I always believed that only the really important events in a person’s life had a profound effect. I guess it takes all of the big moments plus the small ones, and a few tragic instances to define who a person is. I encourage anyone who reads this article to reflect over your lifetime and consider how the little things contributed to who you are.
Markeisha Pollard, Staff Writer