For months now, people across the United States and the world have been shouting “Black Lives Matter!” Despite a global pandemic, millions of people have taken to the streets in anti-racism marches and to speak out against racial inequality and police brutality.
That all-important conversation has now been taken up by Barbie. Yes, that Barbie — the beloved doll, who also stars in animated vlogs on the brand’s official YouTube channel
Barbie has been an important doll figure for decades and is proving to still be one for young girls growing up in this environment.
Today, the doll, which launched in 1959, has its own YouTube channel with over 9.7 million subscribers. In a video posted last week, Barbie had a discussion regarding racism with one of her Black friends, Nikki, that has been viewed more than 500,000 times.
“It’s important to have ongoing conversations about standing up to racism, so I invited my good friend Nikki to join the vlog to share her experiences about when she has been treated unfairly,” reads the description of the video on the Barbie YouTube channel. “I am grateful for her honesty and friendship. To be a good friend, it’s important to listen, to understand, and to notice when bad things are happening to other people and to do something to help stop it. I hope that after hearing from Nikki, you too, will be inspired to continue taking a stand against racism.”
Lisa McKnight, the senior vice president and global head of Barbie & Dolls at Mattel Inc., sent a statement to Insider via email that the recent video featuring Barbie and Nikki’s conversation is part of the brand’s effort to shed light on current issues.
“We made a commitment to the Black community to leverage our global platform, including Barbie herself as a YouTube Vlogger, to tackle important topics such as racism,” McKnight said.
The video has been viewed more than a million times – bringing the important message to people around the globe.
In the powerful video, Barbie says “Millions of people are standing up across the world to fight against racism, and they’re doing this because for too often and for such a long time, people have been treated unfairly, and in some cases, even hurt by others because of the color of their skin.”
Nikki then goes on to speak about times that she was wrongly targeted or treated unfairly for being Black.
“Barbie and I had a sticker-selling contest on the beach last month,” Nikki says. “We split up and went our separate directions to see who could sell the most. While I was on the boardwalk, beach security stopped me three times. The security officer thought I was doing something bad, even though I was doing exactly the same thing that you were doing.”
Nikki also talks about an instance at school, where she was joining a French honor club, and a teacher claimed that she was only there because she “got lucky” on an entrance exam. Barbie then chimes in, asking: “Why didn’t you just stay in the club and prove him wrong?”
“I don’t want to constantly prove and re-prove myself,” Nikki says. “Usually when I talk about these things, people make excuses. They say things, like, ‘Well, maybe you should have had a permit for selling on the beach.’ But those are just excuses. People did these things because I was Black, and they made the wrong assumptions about me.”
Through the video, Barbie is an ideal ally, offering Nikki kindness, support and empathy. She never tries to make her feelings seem invalid. She even tells the viewers about white privilege: “That means that white people get an advantage that they didn’t earn, and Black people get a disadvantage that they don’t deserve.”
Barbie’s conversation with her friend NIkki shows how important it is that each of us take responsibility for what’s happening in our own communities.
The world is facing unprecedented crises: from global warming and climate change to political corruption and systemic racism. Although confronting these problems may seem overwhelming, we are better equipped to tackle them than many of us realize.
In our struggle against racism, people are banding together to shout that Black Lives Matter! And we’re quickly learning that the only way we will make progress is if we use our collective energy.
“Being an ally includes having difficult conversations to better understand discrimination, so we hope that by leveraging Barbie and Nikki to explore these conversations in a kid-friendly format, we can spark productive discussions for families and empower our next generation of leaders to become advocates for change, raising their voices against racism,” McKnight continued.
It’s exciting to see a classic pop culture figure using her platform to address such important issues. And it gives us hope that people from all backgrounds can come together to take on many of the world’s leading crises.
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