As we’ve seen through the influx of data and media coverage on Black boys, they often lose their innocence at the hands of someone else, someone who has stereotyped and criminalized their Blackness continuing the mindset that because they are Black, they don’t deserve innocence. And, while this won’t be changed overnight, Jennifer Pierre is taking the issue of Black boyhood into her own hands and is releasing a new line of dolls for boys of color called “Melanites.”
Pierre is challenging the norm that “Barbies” are for girls and action figures, super heroes, and trucks are for boys. The Melanites come from diverse ethnic backgrounds and aim to inspire young boys of color to think outside of what they are traditionally shown of themselves.
“I wanted to promote the idea of ‘and’, that you can be multifaceted,” Pierre said in a video about her idea on the Huffington Post.
That “and” Pierre is referring to is the idea of leaving room for young boys of color to be that and scientists, and creatives, and emotional beings and all of the other things that are taken away from them When young boys of color are stereotyped and criminalized, their possibility of “and” is lessened as society keeps them on a track that suppresses their identities. This is dangerous for a group of individuals that are already taught heavily to emphasize masculinity through behavior. With pressure from different angles, our boys are being put into boxes already labeled for them leaving their potential ultimately stifled.
“You can’t be what you can’t see and our stories, our lives, our history everything that encompasses who we are it needs to be accurate, it needs to be out there,” Pierre told the Huffington Post.
When I think about the youth as the future of our country, I think about how diverse the up and coming generations are, and then I fear for the future of our country. Not because I don’t think up and coming generations will be capable, but because I see the trends in education and criminal justice that continue to suppress the backgrounds and individuality of youth of color and I wonder where that leaves us 20, 50, or 100 years from now. We can call for the end of the preschool-to-prison pipeline, more investments in communities of color, and varied representation in media but we all have individual responsibilities as well.
How do we truly change the future of the world? The answer becomes more and more clear everyday: create the space and opportunities to challenge and change the White misogynistic beliefs that established our society, and support those that will be pushing an equitable culture in the future. In Jennifer Pierre’s capacity, that looked like creating a new line of multicultural dolls for boys. What does it look like in yours?
Learn more about Melanites and how you can support the mission. Follow them on Facebook too!
Photo: Melanite’s Facebook