Dr. Rachel Buckle-Rashid understood what a role model she was for young girls when a little girl hugged her.
Representation in pop culture matters and Dr. Rachel Buckle-Rashid witnessed it first hand when a little girl jumped into her arms and hugged her after associating her with Doc McStuffins, a Black woman character from an animated children's television series that airs on Disney Channel. Dr. Rachel, who hails from Ghana, said felt more accepted and celebrated than any DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives had ever made her feel. She took to Twitter to recount her meeting with the little girl that made her day, writing: Little girl just jumped into my arms and rested her head on my shoulder in the ED. Her dad said, “she’s never seen a black doctor before and I think she thinks you’re Doc McStuffins.”
Dr. Rachel Buckle-Rashid's tweet about the incident viral with close to 100,000 people liking it. She also touched upon the importance of representation and why it made more of a difference than DEI initiatives, which in many cases are customary. Rachel is a rising peds PGY3 and a future chief resident at Brown. "So now I’m thinking maybe Disney Junior has done more for me as a black woman in medicine than most DEI initiatives," said Dr. Buckle-Rashid in a follow-up tweet.
Little girl just jumped into my arms and rested her head on my shoulder in the ED. Her dad said “she’s never seen a black doctor before and I think she thinks you’re Doc McStuffins”🥺— Rachel Buckle-Rashid, MD (@RABuckle) June 13, 2021
The responses to the tweet also called for more representation. One Twitter user wrote, "I used to do beauty pageants. I was wearing my crown in a store and a Black girl started crying and said, "Mom it's a Black Princess." Another Twitter user could relate to it, having watched their own kids grow up watching the cartoon. "My little brown girls grew up with Doc McStuffins and I can totally see this. Representation matters! We need more doctors who look like us and the communities they’re serving," they wrote. Another parent made a similar point. "The young woman who gave my 12 y.o. her first Coronavirus test was Black and the two women who gave my daughter her vaccines recently were both Black. She was legitimately in awe to see that many black medical professionals on the front lines. Thank you for your representation!" they commented.
Former first lady Michelle Obama understood how much representation matters and it's what drove her to be more visible. “For so many people, television and movies may be the only way they understand people who aren’t like them,” said Michelle Obama. “And when I come across many little black girls who come up to me over the course of these 7 ½ years with tears in their eyes, and they say: ‘Thank you for being a role model for me. I don’t see educated black women on TV, and the fact that you’re the first lady validates who I am,’” said Obama, reported Vulture.
"There are folks who now know black families — like the Johnsons on Black-ish or the folks on Modern Family. They become part of who you are. You share their pains. You understand their fears. They make you laugh, and they change how you see the world. The only way that millions of people get to know other folks and the way they live … is through the power of television and movies," added Michelle Obama.
Dorinne Kondo, an Arts and Sciences Professor of Anthropology, stressed why representation created role models to aspire to and defined the boundaries of what was possible and achievable for those communities. "Identities are formed by watching sports, theatre, TV, and YouTube; by playing video games, dancing, and listening to music. Those are more than just forms of entertainment, they stage “visions of possibility” for what and who we can become. Because marginalized populations have fewer role models in the workplace and society in general, we need more expansive and generous visions of possibility that tell stories of people from different races, genders, sexualities, classes, abilities, cultures. Everyone should have the opportunity to be recognized as fully human," said Kondo, reported USC Dornsife.