Although the three-minute-long video is far from a masterclass in racism for young kids—that's far too short a time to tackle such a heavy, centuries-deep topic—it is good a starting point.
The Black Lives Matter movement of 2020 forced the world to finally acknowledge the inherent racism embedded in modern society like never before. While in the past, brands have escaped accountability by some meaningless show of support, they've now realized that they'll have to do more than the bare minimum to be part of a truly anti-racist future. Among the brands finally taking genuine steps towards such a future is the iconic Barbie with an informative video on racism for their young customers. The three-minute webisode features Barbie and her friend Nikki discussing racism and the subtle and not so subtle ways it exists in society.
Barbie sat down for a real talk about racism with her good friend Nikki in the Dreamhouse — and the pair unpacked White privilege, the struggles of racial bias and what it means to be a true ally https://t.co/tfB23GwNhr— CNN (@CNN) October 10, 2020
Released by Mattel and Barbie earlier this month, the episode, titled Barbie and Nikki Discuss Racism, includes a frank discussion about how Nikki, who is Black, experiences racism in her day to day life. "As the most-watched series and #1 girls channel on YouTube, Barbie is using her platform to raise awareness around racism and encourage girls to stand up if they see a person treated unfairly. The format of the episode consists of Barbie’s friend Nikki talking about the racism she has personally felt and share some stories that may resonate with other girls," Mattel said in a statement to The Glow Up.
Together, let’s keep listening, keep learning, and take action to inspire change.— Barbie (@Barbie) October 8, 2020
For more resources on how to talk about anti-racism with your kids, visit: https://t.co/KqeamkFRPo
"The goal of the episode is to help girls to understand that there is a huge movement going on in the fight against racism, why people are marching together, and the importance of reading and learning more about Black history. Barbie is championing gender equality to help close the racial injustice barrier girls face through the Dream Gap and this is one way the brand is addressing it," the statement added. "We hope that families watch this together and leverage the brand to discuss a really tough topic with a young child and hope it spurs many more conversations on how girls can support one another."
The way I’m crying rn 🙄😭💗 I’ve loved Barbies all my life & this makes me very proud pic.twitter.com/6uad38aNMQ— ✨imma do me regardless.✨ (@RoseyBloom24) October 8, 2020
"People might think that my life looks fine," Nikki tells her friend in the special episode. "But the truth is, I and so many other Black people have to deal with racism all the time. It’s really hurtful, and it can be scary and sad." She then shares some very relatable instances of racism that will undoubtedly resonate with young Black kids who've had to face such situations in real life. Her anecdotes might even come as an eye-opener to young White kids who, to be very frank, have probably never had a reason to discuss or even think about racism.
Barbie and her friend Nikki doing WHAT? I support this whole heartedly, lots of kids are probably hearing a lot of buzzwords and phrases right now they don't understand. Having BARBIE explain reminds me of when Sesame Street did it first. https://t.co/CsKezOmIAC— Dungeons and Bears (@Dungeonsnbears) October 8, 2020
"I don’t want to have to constantly prove and re-prove myself," Nikki says of the everyday instances of racism she faces at school, at the beach, at the shopping mall, and whatnot. "Usually when I talk about these things, people make excuses...But those are just excuses. People did these things to me because I was Black and they made the wrong assumptions about me." Although the three-minute-long video is far from a masterclass in racism for young kids—that's far too short a time to tackle such a heavy, centuries-deep topic—we must admit that this is a good place to start.
The best part of this Barbie vlog is Nikki leading this conversation about racism and not Barbie. She shares her concern and support, but Barbie never spoke over Nikki. This is important. Barbie didn't tell Nikki's story, she let her tell it for herself. That's how you ally. pic.twitter.com/RPl96Ofi8O— Spooky Dick Energy (@JustJoeyJoeyJo) October 8, 2020
Barbie responds with the requisite righteous indignation of a true ally as her friend opens up about her experiences with racism. It is also important to note that she gives Nikki the floor to talk about the issues rather than taking center stage and lecturing the audience about something she's never experienced personally. As far as anti-racism efforts go, this video is a perfect conversation starter for parents who need to have the racism talk with their children.
On today’s vlog, Nikki talks to #Barbie about racism and some of the ways she has been treated unfairly because of the color of her skin. Having conversations like this is one of the first steps in addressing and combatting a systemic problem. pic.twitter.com/OmFLxQgEkf— Barbie (@Barbie) October 8, 2020