As I’m walking through Target with my little sister, the kid somehow manages to convince me to take a trip down the doll aisle. I know the type - brands that preach diversity through displays of nine different variations of white and maybe a black girl if you’re lucky enough. What I instead found as soon as I turned into the aisle were these two boxes.
The girl on the left is Shola, an Afghani girl from Kabul with war-torn eyes. Her biography on the inside flap tells us that “her country has been at war since before she was born”, and all she has left of her family is her older sister. They’re part of a circus, the one source of light in their lives, and they read the Qur’an. She wears a hijab.
The girl on the right is Nahji, a ten-year-old Indian girl from Assam, where “young girls are forced to work and get married at a very early age”. Nahji is smart, admirable, extremely studious. She teaches her fellow girls to believe in themselves. In the left side of her nose, as tradition mandates, she has a piercing. On her right hand is a henna tattoo.
As a Pakistani girl growing up in post-9/11 America, this is so important to me. The closest thing we had to these back in my day were “customizable” American Girl dolls, who were very strictly white or black. My eyes are green, my hair was black, and my skin is brown, and I couldn’t find my reflection in any of those girls. Yet I settled, just like I settled for the terrorist jokes boys would throw at me, like I settled for the butchered pronunciations of names of mine and my friends’ countries. I settled for a white doll, who at least had my eyes if nothing else, and I named her Rabeea and loved her. But I still couldn’t completely connect to her.
My little sister, who had been the one to push me down the aisle in the first place, stopped to stare with me at the girls. And then the words, “Maybe they can be my American Girls,” slipped out of her mouth. This young girl, barely represented in today’s society, finally found a doll that looks like her, that wears the weird headscarf that her grandma does and still manages to look beautiful.
I turned the dolls’ boxes around and snapped a picture of the back of Nahji’s. There are more that I didn’t see in the store; a Belarusian, an Ethiopian, a Brazilian, a Laotian, a Native American, a Mexican. And more.
These are Hearts 4 Hearts dolls, and while they haven’t yet reached all parts of the world (I think they have yet to come out with an East Asian girl), they need all the support they can get so we can have a beautiful doll for every beautiful young girl, so we can give them what our generation never had.
Please don’t let this die. If you know a young girl, get her one. I know I’m buying Shola and Nahji for my little sister’s next birthday, because she needs a doll with beautiful brown skin like hers, a doll who wears a hijab like our older sister, a doll who wears real henna, not the blue shit white girls get at the beach.
The Hearts 4 Hearts girls are so important. Don’t overlook them. Don’t underestimate them. These can be the future if we let them.
You can read more about the dolls here: http://www.playmatestoys.com/brands/hearts-for-hearts-girls
*runs to target- i need to get my babydoll one for her 1st bday
Josephine Baker tending her garden at the Chateau des Milandes, her home from 1937 to 1969..
We are seeking to raise funds for a trans woman who was brutally attacked in Bushwick, NY on October 12 2014 and unfortunately has brain damage.
Boost this, please!!! I don’t know Shayla but she was in my homeroom- I saw her almost every day. I just found out about her missing status and I’m shocked. Spread the word in any way you can, especially people in Queens and within Delaware County in Pennsylvania!
FUNDRAISING FOR SCHOLARSHIPS FOR TRANS STUDENTS
We are hosting a first-of-a-kind scholarship opportunity for transgender, gender nonconforming, and gender diverse students!
Scholarships will be between $500 and $2,000 depending on donations. We will be offering at least three scholarships focusing on trans youth activism. You can learn more about the scholarships here.
Interestingly, when cash welfare had first been created back in the 1930s (and when access had been restricted to white women), allowing mothers to stay home and raise kids, and not have to work in the labor force, had been articulated as the very purpose of the program. Only when women of color began to gain access to the same benefits did the nation suddenly decide that welfare was bad for you, made you lazy, and needed to be replaced with compulsory employment.
relative of Mary Unique Spears
This relative hid her face on camera because she is afraid for her own life. Mary Unique Spears, her 27 year old relative, engaged and mother of 3, was murdered outside of a club because she did not want to speak to a 38 year old man—that she nor her family knew—who was harassing her inside of the club, for hours. I legitimately—not tangentially or theoretically—understand her fear.
She was with her family. She was with her fiancé. None of this mattered. There was no “community” moment where this man reconsidered just because she was “taken” (which patriarchal men at times view as a reason to back down, if they view a woman as someone else’s “property” already) or with her family, or because she said no and mentioned being in a relationship. None of this mattered when he injured several other people—including some of her family members—and murdered her. Oh and they were leaving a funeral that day. They already buried a different family member and wanted to celebrate that person’s life at the club.
Mary Unique Spears is a Black woman dead because of street harassment. I did not see the man’s background stated, just that it was in Detroit which is the most heavily populated city in terms of Black population and familial report on what he said to her was in AAVE. And being the way race/class impacts access to many Black women in residential space, I believe he was a Black man. Though Black men are not the only ones who street harass Black women, Black women experience violence from Black men more than from anyone else, period. A lot (not all) of gender violence is intraracial for many races.
Black women are expected—even demanded—to be silent about street harassment if from Black men and on intraracial gendered violence in general, often told to focus on “White supremacy” as State violence on Black women. Then when we do the latter, that is silenced as well, told it “distracts” from what Black men, primarily cishet ones, experience with State violence. I put White supremacy in quotes here not because it’s fake—it is most certainly real—but because some Black men are disingenuous when they regularly suggest that Black women “only” critique Black men and “never” critique White supremacy (which is ridiculously false) and they won’t examine how anti-Blackness and White supremacy in fact impact patriarchal masculinity that many Black men think is the only valid expression of masculinity.
I think about her story and think about how easily this could have been me. How many times I’ve been threatened with rape and murder during street harassment that I have experienced for 23 of my 35 years alive, in all types of spaces, including clubs. How one man tried to run me over in a club parking lot because I told him I did not want to dance with him many hours earlier. How another man had to be held back and tasered by multiple security guards at a club to keep him from assaulting a friend and I at one of my past birthday celebrations in my 20s.
I…think about if this is going to be me someday soon, murdered by a stranger who felt entitled to my body and time.
UPDATE: I have added the following resources to the blog:
Note: I have created a Police Brutality page.
For anybody planning to support the protests in Ferguson this weekend… I hope these will help keep you safe.
Filmmaker and advocate PJ has been working on NO HUMAN INVOLVED since 2010. The film is now being edited and she seeks finishing funds to make the film shine as it should. Every cent raised via this campaign will be poured back into the film’s production.
In 2009 after she was sentenced to more than two years in prison for prostitution, Marcia Powell was locked in a metal cage in the desert sun at an Arizona prison. Four hours later she collapsed in the 107-degree heat, and by day’s end she was dead after being removed from life support by the Department of Corrections. Even though an internal investigation revealed that guards had denied her water and ridiculed her when she pleaded for help, no one was ever charged. The documentary NO HUMAN INVOLVED investigates the circumstances of Marcia’s death, exposing the system that has lead to the death of scores of others in facilities across Arizona, and documents a movement that has formed seeking justice in her name. Marcia’s story motivates audiences to question the system that justified her incarceration, as viewers empathize with her humanity realizing that what happened to her, can happen to anyone.
Marcia Powell was murdered in cold blood Marcia Powell was murdered in cold blood Marcia Powell was murdered in cold blood