Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich what are you imagining for Black girls?
The first time I saw a lot Black dolls in a store was in Rome, Italy. I was almost seven, and overwhelmed with joy. There was a whole wall! Up until then, my dolls were primarily homemade, made by my mother, and Nana, and Aunties, out of super strong brown support hose, the ones the wore for their varicose veins. White dolls were simply not allowed, they weren’t us, that had always been the rule, and we understood it as a matter of course. I loved my homemade dolls and their exquisitely sewn wardrobes, and pitied my Black friend who angrily told me that my one Black Barbie-ish doll (her skin was a strange dark brown gray, and her lips were pale bright pink) was ugly *only* because she was Black. I didn’t covet white store-bought dolls, as many of my friends did. When some family friend (who clearly did not know my parents well enough) bought me one once; I panicked and buried her in my grandparents’ backyard.
But when I saw that display of rows and rows of happy, Black, beautiful dolls, I knew the joy of seeing myself as something to be shown, to be celebrated, to be loved by community and society just because I was.
I want Black girls to know that we are enough as we are. I want us to have to freedom and space to grow and change and succeed and make mistakes in myriad ways, always knowing that at our core, we are enough. To be gently nurtured, and loved fiercely and deeply, to know that our stories are precious, and valued, and contain multitudes. To know that we can be powerful in silence, in shouting, in laughter, and in tears. That we don’t always have to be Strong, or Magical, or More. We are enough, and that is plenty to celebrate.
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of the middle grade novels Two Naomis and Naomis Too, as well as 8th Grade Superzero. She has contributed to the website Brightly and the books Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices and Break These Rules: 35 YA Authors on Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself. She enjoys showing her leadership skills to her younger sister and wishes you could eat cake in the library. She lives with her family in New York City, where she writes, makes things, and needs to get more sleep. Olugbemisola loves to visit with readers and writers like you; until then, find her online at http://www.olugbemisolabooks.com.