When I was a little girl, growing up in Ohio, I remember what it felt like the first time I had a doll that looked like me. At the time, I thought she was my favorite because she was soft and cute and just the right size. As I got older, I realized it was because she looked like me.
As a child, growing up in the dawn of the digital age of Disney Channel, Nickalodan and Nintendo, I remember what it felt like the first time I saw Aladdin. Jasmine quickly became my favorite princess. I loved her feisty spirit and compassion, but what I loved most was her long black hair and golden skin because. She was the first Disney princess like that. She was the first that looked like me.
As I got older, I remember what it felt like the first time I went to school and had a classmate that looked like me. Her sun-kissed skin the same tone as mine. Her hair the same texture and volume. I was a senior in high school. Finally, I had a friend who looked like me.
As a teenager, I remember what it felt like when I started watching a new show that came on after one of my favorites, The Cosby Show. The spinoff featured Jasmine Guy. I knew her at Whitley. She was my favorite! She not only was a bit of a perfectionist like me, but had long curly textured hair and a skin color I couldn’t quite place. All I knew was this show had an actress that looked like me.
As an adult, yes, even as an adult, I still look for women who look like me. Women who sit in positions of leadership & influence. Women who have become experts in their craft and have found a platform with which to share it with the world. Women who have risen above limits and boundaries long standing to achieve what their mothers and grandmothers only dreamed of.
Today, I watched along with the world, as women who looked like me and like you took centerstage.
- Senator Amy Klobuchar (politician): a white woman gave the opening address while ushering in the transfer of the most powerful seat in our nation.
- Lady Gaga (singer), a white women powerfully delivered the national anthem.
- Jennifer Lopez (singer), a Puerto Rican woman not only sang a patriotic medley, but also quoted part of the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish.
- Justice Sonia Sotomayor (Supreme Court Justice): a Puerto Rican woman gave the Oath of Office to Vice President Kamala Harris.
- Andrea Hall (Fire Captain), Atlanta’s first Black female Fire Captain, led the nation in the Pledge of Allegiance both verbally and using ASL.
- Amanda Gorman (poet), a Black woman and the nations first youth poet laureate, delivered a stirring poem calling us to to not only be brave enough to see the light but brave enough to BE the light.
- Kamala Harris (politician), a BIPOC woman became the first Black, Asian Vice President of the United States.
No matter how old you are, there’s something powerful that happens in the soul when you see someone who looks like you, achieving greatness, being honored & celebrated, finding success and paving the way for others. It makes the impossible attainable.
The moral of the story…Representation Matters