October 7, 2009

Work Study Journals

Here's an excerpt of what Margaux has to say about the newest Disney movie coming out:

As a modern young woman interested in gender bias and communications, I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will: I cannot wait to see the new Disney movie “The Princess and the Frog”. Despite all the things wrong with the Disney Princess machine, I still unabashadly love them. The fact that “The
Princess and the Frog” was even made is really exciting because at long last there is a princess that looks like me! I know what the detractors will say, that there are already two princesses that look like me: Jasmine and Pocahontas. My friends used to call me Jasmahontas because I didn’t look like either of them, but I had to claim them because they were the only characters with melanin in their skin. But do Jasmine and Pocahontas get the same amount of marketing and attention that Ariel and Belle receive? The answer would be a no.

My favorite Disney princess is actually Ariel, and when I was three years old I begged my mother to dye my hair red so I could look like her. As a little brown girl with frizzy dark hair, you can only imagine what I would’ve looked like. But the desire is there for many girls of color who are indoctrinated into the Disney Princess regime only to find that the young women they are supposed to idolize look nothing like them. Although my mother obviously said "no" to my desperate pleas, the question still remained- when was Disney going to reach out to a more diverse market of little girls? After all, we have purchasing power, too!

The whole Disney Princess lifestyle is not without its faults-
it teaches girls that they must wait around for a dashing prince to save them, that the focus is on being beautiful and in distress instead of being independent. “The Princess and the Frog” itself is problematic, as the princess actually spends most of the movie as a frog. One could argue that because the princess becomes an amphibian for the duration of the film, that the message it sends its young viewers is actually negative. However, that doesn’t matter to me at the moment. What matters to me is that there is actually a dark skinned princess with ethnic features as the main character of a Disney movie. That in itself is a major reason to celebrate, and a reason to see and support the movie. Maybe one day when I have a daughter, I can take her to Disney World and she can see Princess Tiana costumes and advertisements. She won’t feel like an outsider looking in, like I did, and that makes “The Princess and the Frog” that much better.

Raul reflects on President Obama's recent Human Rights Campaign Dinner:

Today I read a very short brief in the NY Times on the subject of gay rights.
President Obama is to speak at the 13th Annual Human Rights Campaign Dinner this Saturday. This will be the night before the Nation Equality Rights March, which is on Sunday. The march is calling for people to fight for full federal equality in all civil law aspects of the LGBT community in all fifty states.

The article continued on the subject of how although President Obama is the second to speak to the HRC, and although he is doing this he has not
advocated for gay rights as actively as people had hoped. Obviously, many of us look for instant results in all aspects of life and with gay rights there
are many who are looking for the long awaited change now. Gay marriage
being one of the most prominent issues, I looked for more information
and found that currently there are only four states that recognize legal
same-sex marriage which include state-level rights and benefits. Even though these states have implemented this, federally, marriage is recognized as a union between a man and a woman and federal benefits do not apply to same-sex couples. I decided to go to the HRC website to see what they had to say on the subject and to my surprise not only
is marriage an issue but there are 13 outlined issues that include
the military, adoption, the workplace, people of color, etc. I never realized
that gay rights were much larger than just the recognition of gay marriage,
which seems to be the most discussed issue in the media.

With this newfound realization, I thought the article which downplayed Pres. Obama’s support for the gay rights cause is wrong. The fact that he is
speaking to the HRC and he is working on getting rid of the “Don’t Ask,
Don’t Tell” policy shows that we are moving in the right direction. With any issue of basic human rights, whether it is based on race, gender, age, or
sexual orientation, etc. the fact is that we can see before our eyes there
is a movement for change. Just when will that change

Michelle on the recent visit of Prof. Bernard Griego:

On Thursday October 1st Professor Bernard Griego flew to Boston from UC Berkley. Professor Griego addressed the "Inequalities in Public Health"and through his talk it was evident that Public Health is more than just a discussion about "health care." Prof. Griego described Public Health as “the willingness to take on the big issues” and he identified 3 main part of Public Health which included 1) Prevention, how to stop a problem from even occurring; 2)Environmental changes which consist of social, cultural, physical, and political policies; and 3) Social Justice which means everyone has the right and dignity towards achieving and living in good health. He had includes issues of public healt such as violence, war, obesity, alcohol and smoking.

Racism is a race-based situation in which one feels they have the right to be superior to another race. As citizens we should be able to take steps that will stop racism and its effects on the day to day actions of a large number of groups.

As a student of color in Stonehill College, it seems that every morning is another battle to prove people’s stereotypes wrong. Before they get to know me, many of my fellow students have a preconceived notion of what I am going to act like and what I am going to say. I have to admit, it gets tiring. For once, I wish I could just represent myself as me. While I know who I am, I live with a racial perception that others have of me.

Finally, Rachel comments on the "Lil' Monkey" doll:

As a little girl, my cousin and I would always play and compete with who has the most dolls or Barbie dolls. Of course, my cousin always won. My parents believed that dolls are just silly materialistic things that clog the spaces in the house. During that time, I would play with the white Barbie dolls because I thought she was pretty and always had to cutest dresses to dress her up in. Watching television as a kid, I would always see these girls playing with the white Barbie dolls and it never occurred to me that something was missing. My mother and I went shopping and asked if we could go to the toy section where all the dolls were. I noticed the Barbie doll that was always displayed on TV. But what really got my attention was an African American Barbie doll that had the same facial structure and features, but had brown skin. I was really excited because I had never seen another beautiful doll than the original. Then I thought to myself, how come I don’t see other Barbie dolls like me, Asian. I asked my Mom “Why I can’t find other Barbie dolls like me?” She said they do manufacture it but don’t sell much of it.

I eventually grew out of Barbie dolls and moved onto American Girl Dolls because they had cute accessories. I really loved dolls those American Girl Dolls. Whenever I received an American Girl Magazine, I wanted to have my own, but my parents thought it was too much money. I noticed each girl represented a different historical era and represented cultural ethnicities. I also noticed in the catalog that you can make your own doll to look just like you. I was excited, but I knew it was expensive and could not own one. All through my childhood years, I was searching for a doll that looked like me. They either were not available or too expensive.

Seeing this article on African American baby dolls being identified as a “Lil Monkey” disturbed. I understand that companies are trying to sell dolls, but they should’ve thought of the racial implications and messages before putting it on shelves. Of course it would cause an uproar and controversy because it sends the wrong message to little girls (of all races and ethnicities) across the U.S.

We now live in the 21st century with Barack Obama as our President and to see this type of racial categorization and identification is awful. Many young girls may have no idea of what this means on the surface, but it continues to perpetuate this a negative message.

This reminds me of the study where African American girls picked the white doll over the brown doll because it was "prettier". It is not enough to just have brown-like-me dolls; we have to also send a positive message and avoid reinforcing negative messages.