NOTE: The following is my personal opinion. It in no way reflects or represents my employer, its policies and platforms, or my daily efforts on behalf of said employer to keep the company head in Purina Giraffe Chow.
One of the advantages of working in a toy store is watching children react to various toys. This of course involves first hand viewings of assorted temper tantrums, crying jags, screaming fits, and the like. But enough about the parents.
I bring this up because the other day I put out the first shipment of Elena of Avalor toys. For those of you minus a girl or girls aged four to ten in your household or reasonable equivalent thereof who faithfully watch Disney Channel, the recently debuted show is set in a fictional Central American country during colonial times. Elena is a Latina princess with magical powers. There’s more, of course, as any aforementioned girl or girls aged four to ten can breathlessly tell you.
Getting back to the merchandise, it’s in the front of the store, where coincidentally I’m usually stationed. This provides a prime vantage point for observing responses. Which are …
… pretty much universal for girls in the four to ten age bracket. Doesn’t matter what color the child: white, black, brown, yellow, purple with pink polkadots, etc. Immediately their eyes become big as saucers and they grab an Elena doll of various features (one sings, one comes with a horse, one comes with her sister, and all come with a special feature that automatically sucks money out of parental wallets and purses). Just as immediately, it is totally apparent their harried mothers have absolutely no idea who this character is. Apparently they’re not spending a lot of time with their children watching Disney Channel. I know parenting is tough, Mom, but once in a while put the wine down and watch some TV with the kid(s).
Now, what lesson can we draw from this? Despite the whining of some self-appointed Social Justice Warrior types, it’s quite simple. Regardless of the character’s race, and regardless of the child’s race unless they’ve already been programmed to hate, girls love princesses with magical powers. Period.
I am reminded of an afternoon I spent at a local mall after Frozen hit the theaters. It was Halloween time, and all the stores in the mall were participating in giving out candy to children. For amusement, I decided to see how many girls dressed as Elsa I could count. I gave up after it rapidly became apparent I should be counting by dozens and not one at a time. Again, as with the girls grabbing the Elena dolls, it was every color child imaginable wearing an Elsa dress. The identity wasn’t with her race. It was with the character herself. Indulge me while I repeat myself: regardless of the character’s race, and regardless of the child’s race unless they’ve already been programmed to hate, girls love princesses with magical powers. Period, end of story.
Maybe if we would stop defining ourselves and each other, and dividing ourselves and each other, by our skin color we might be better off.