Saturday is the National Pretty Brown Girl Day is Saturday, Feb. 25. The Root DC spoke with Sheri Crawley, founder and chief executive and founder of the Pretty Brown Girl organization, about why she created a event that is dedicated to girls of color in all shades of brown.
Q.Why did you create this organization?
A. The crux of it, personally, was that we moved from downtown Chicago to a suburb in Detroit where the population of African Americans was only 1 percent at best. My daughter was the only African-American in her kindergarten class and the smartest one in the class. I could notice that she was becoming super, super sensitive, and I could really see her self-esteem start to dwindle.
There were also two other incidences. One was the doll-study research that was a reenactment of the original test. The results were the same as the 1940s, where girls of color preferred lighter dolls. I was absolutely crying through the particular episode that I saw: A young African American girl was describing her skin as everything but positive.
We also had our own experiences planning parties at doll stores: Again, our daughters picking the lighter dolls, despite having strong African American role models. It was mind-boggling why they wouldn’t pick a doll that looked like them.
Q. How did Pretty Brown Girl Day start?
A. We wanted to get the message out to the world, acknowledge it as a day. It’s so important that as a collective this is being embraced. This is much bigger than just selling products. We get calls and e-mails from people hearing about Pretty Brown Girl, and the resounding question is: “How can I join?” or “What can I do to help?”
We wanted it to be back into the homes, focus right where the girls are and not just isolated events. We’re also excited for it to fall during Black History Month.
The pretty brown girl experience was a way for us to talk to our children about their uniqueness and ethnicity at an early age. Now, it’s a vocabulary for them: That’s how they talk; that’s how they think; pretty and brown go together in their mind. Now, more than ever, we are becoming one universal world.
Q. On Pretty Brown Girl Day, what do you want people to do?
A. Churches are doing dedications over the weekend, and it’s part of their services. Some mothers are taking a day off, just to hang out with their daughter. Some teenagers are planning pretty brown girl power hours where they dedicate time to listen to what’s going on in their hearts and minds.
We also encourage women to find girls to mentor, help to build that self-esteem and confidence. We ask women and girls on this day: Truly dream big and impact themselves, their family and community.
Q. Do you think the African American community/communities of color are doing enough?
A. I think we can always do more. I think that there is always room for growth. Now, more than ever, is the time as parents, communities, as leaders to spend some time with healing in this area. There have been 400 years of messaging. It’s not just an African-American issue, but globally with people of color: They’re all made to feel less than. We just see things much more clear coming from the mouths of babes.
Individually, we need to do more: having the conversations, having the discussions. Sometimes, we’re so busy inundating our children with activities like gymnastics, soccer, academics, but just the basics of asking how are things going, how are you feeling as a person, may not come up if we aren’t sitting down and having the discussion.
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