Something happened this week that reminded me how important it is to make sure that my children are surrounded by black representation.
I went shopping for some new underwear for one of my girls this week. While it may seem like such a small thing, the underwear struggle is real at my house. Each of my girls needs a different size. However, with the tagless undies, the numbers wash off after a few washes. When I am doing laundry, I simply don't have the time or energy to compare underwear sizes. Seriously, who does?
So, to streamline my laundry sorting (and make is so that the 4 and 5 year olds can help me), I buy each kid a different character, color, or style of underwear. Well, on this shopping trip, my choices were limited by the size and style this daughter needed. So I picked some that I knew she'd love (pink and hearts, her favorite) and I brought them home. When she got home from school, I asked her to try them on. She grabbed the package out of my hand and very excited said, "Mom! These undies are made for black girls like me!"
You see, the package had a beautiful girl with brown skin like my daughter's on the package. The underwear are just different colors, some with hearts, but the package affirmed to my daughter that her brown skin is beautiful. She was so happy to have underwear that seemed to be made just for her.
After we confirmed that these underwear fit her perfectly, she asked if she could carry around the picture of that beautiful girl. My sweet 4 year old spent the whole rest of the morning telling stories about the girl on the underwear packaging. She even built this girl a castle treehouse out of blocks.
My kids see the beautiful differences in skin color all around them and they want racial mirrors in their lives. They need racial mirrors in their lives. We try very hard to make sure our kids' race is represented all through our home. And I am constantly learning and realizing how much farther I have to go in this! As a transracial adoptive parent, I've learned that representation matters so much for my black children. Having people, toys, books, and media with other people of color constantly around my children is so important for their growth and development and how they see and view themselves.
This is one of the reasons that I pursued ownership of Africa Sleeps. My kids love to help with the business. They're not only my (very eager) models and product testers, but they're actively involved in the creative process as I try to make it easier to access things made just for them that represent them. My daughters love the Naija Princess Dolls. They love having TruColor Bandages that match their skin tone. They love the SugarPlum Fairy line that uses a black ballerina on the packaging. Everything is made just for them and that matters so very much!