October 20, 2009

Dolls, media images, and color-blindess continue to be topics on our bloggers' minds. Read for further insight into what Stonehill students think about these issues:

Joniece Leonard remembers Barbie growing up.

Growing up I was never really into Barbie, but my best friend definitely had a different story. She had the Barbie boat, dream house, and the “my size” Barbie which was supposed to be life-size. I remember the “my size” Barbie being age specific and as children, media commercials told us that her clothes were supposed to not only fit Barbie, but us as well. My friend had a very small frame and I do not remember her being able to fit in any of the “my size” Barbie clothing. She was very disturbed by this because she wanted to wear that princess dress that adorned Barbie so graciously. Mattel did not really address the fact that we all have different body types and “my size” may not be someone else’s size. They were definitely catering to a specific demographic that did not include me or my friend.

I know things have changed a little since I was growing up, Mattel is even coming out with a Black Barbie, but there is definitely still a lot that needs to change. The thing that bothers me about the Black Barbie doll is the fact that it is still called a Barbie. For me Barbie has a certain image that goes along with the name. This image includes being white, blonde, and thin. Simply changing her skin color and lips does not make it a different doll. It is still a Barbie in every sense. If Mattel was going to create a new doll they could have came up with a concept different from the traditional concept of Barbie who we know and label a certain image. Maybe changing the Barbie name and putting a little more thought into the creation of the dolls would make me appreciate their efforts a little more. Barbie is the furthest thing from being anything like a real person, especially a person that looks like me. I never had any dolls that looked like me. Even though I wasn’t too into dolls and I was more interested in playing with any toys my brother had (including his action figures and hot wheels) I never owned a doll that was Black.

Of course my same experience with Barbie and dolls in general extended to other interests I had. I was also very interested in hair, makeup, and baking. The commercials for all of these activities and products depicting little white girls baking or playing with their mom, but again, no one that looked like me. The beauty and baking industry did not take into account that not only white people use their products, but so do the rest of the people of color population. With the changing demographics of the United States, companies like Mattel, the beauty and food industry really need to start expanding their marketing strategies. They also need to ensure that their products are wide-ranging and inclusive to the general population, which is quickly changing from predominately White to predominately people of color.

Blayne Lopes discusses the importance of people of color on television.

After reading a blog on Racialicious entitled, “Meet Rebecca: The Racialicious Review for Heroes 4.5”. I wondered about what it would take to put more people of color on television shows. When I was growing up, I watched shows like The Magic School Bus, Power Rangers, Cousin Skeeter, and Hey Arnold. Although they included people of color on the cast, it was in a very “tokenizing” way. On Power Rangers, there was a token Black Ranger and a token Asian Ranger. On the other shows I watched, the people of color were never the main character, only the sidekicks.

When I was a child watching these shows, I never really thought much about people of color on television. White people were the norm and I never questioned the overwhelming “whiteness” of the main characters. So when I was little, I never thought of being a superhero or a main character. I could only see myself as a villain like the Green Lantern. Again, I never really thought about it…until now.

Now that I am older, I am more aware and more conscious of the images I see reflecting back at me. I am concerned about what the void or negative images of people of color will do to the next generation. What messages are being received? Bad guys are brown and good guys are white. This idea really affects the way children view themselves and others. For me, I never thought of being a hero or a leader because I never saw those types of role models on television. For a white child, it is easier to stereotype and judge people of color if the images on television tell them brown people are bad.

I know I am over simplifying things, but television images are an important topic to address because the average American spends three years of their life in front of a television. So how do we get more positive images of people of color on television? What do you think?

Raul Martinez on elections and color-blindness.

There are those who still believe that the best way to rid ourselves of racism is to live in a “color-blind society” where we do not consider someone’s race when considering them for a job position or a political election. Based on a NY Times article “Colorblind Conundrum For Bloomberg’s Rival” it seems the city of New York is on its way to being colorblind as voters seem to forget that candidate William C. Thompson Jr. is Black.

It has always been a perception of mine, maybe because of movies and television that political candidates are always looking to win over the Black vote, the Latino vote, or another minority group who has a significant swing vote. However according to the article Mr. Thompson is not looking to win over any racial vote. Could it be really true that Pres. Obama has led us into a “post-racial era?” False. I do not believe this to be true because of the comments made by Rudolph Guiliani who is campaigning with Thompson’s rival, Mayor Bloomberg. He made a statement saying that the crime rate will go up under the wrong political leadership. The insinuation is being made that under the leadership of Mr. Thompson who is a Black man, crime rates will go up. Is he saying this because Mr. Thompson is Black? Would this statement have been made if Mr. Thompson was White (or any other race)? Because I can still ask those questions, we do NOT live in a post-racial society. Clearly we have not reached the fantasized post-racial era or a colorblind society.

Who knows if a color-blind society will ever be possible? Is it even a good thing? I take pride in being Latino and I do not want anyone to be “blind” to my ethnicity. It makes me who I am. It is important for all of us that racism is eradicated, but I do not want it to be at the expense of my identity. Quoting from an article, “There is pride in race, and pride in the progress that means race means less than it ever has.” When there are no more hate crimes, and no more internalized oppression I might believe this statement, but for now, we still have a long way to go.