When I was growing up, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Even though my family are true blue, University of Michigan Wolverine fans, I was afforded the opportunity to visit one of the best veterinary schools in the country at our rival campus, Michigan State. After discovering the mass quantities of math and science classes that I would have to ingest to make my dream a reality, my dream changed. I just didn't believe that was something that I could do, partially because I was not exposed to women of color who had completed a doctoral career path. Although I am happy with my life now, I often wonder what it would have been like had I chose a career in veterinary medicine.
Since my childhood, I have been a big Disney fan, even though, there were not images on the screen that looked like my family. There is something about Disney that magically pulls you in and never lets go. After becoming a teenager, I would drive my little brother and I an hour away to the best movie theater around to see the new Disney movie on opening night, then months later race to the local store to buy it on VHS tape just to hurry home to see the previews for upcoming movies. In the back of my mind, I always hoped that the main character would one day look like us.
Now, with one adorable little black girl in tow, and one on the way, I am always looking for different things to expose my children to so they understand that the sky is the limit for them. When my husband and I learned that the title character in "The Princess and the Frog" would be black, our excitement could hardly be contained. The movie was released when our daughter was just over three months old. We were there opening night to make sure it was the very first movie we took her to see. Even though she will never remember it, we will, and there are ticket stubs in her baby book to prove it. Besides race, I share Tiana's attitude of hard work, determination and love of cooking. Couple this with the fact that her best friend and I share the name Lottie, (I know her name was really "Charlotte" but they called her "Lottie" most of the movie, so her name is "Lottie!") makes this one of my favorite movies of all time.
While watching Disney Junior with our daughter, we saw a preview for Doc McStuffins and my eyes lit up. Could it be? Knowing our children would be able to identify with a main character, on regular television, at an early age, was overwhelmingly good news. Not only are Doc and her purple stethoscope impossibly cute, but she wants to be a doctor when she grows up and lives her dream now by healing sick toys in her very own backyard clinic. Doc lives with her brother and both of her parents, one of which (her mother) is a doctor. A few episodes into the series, the mother is finally seen on camera, and my daughter asks, "What's wrong Mommom?" while I'm pregnant, jumping up and down and screaming excitedly at the TV screen. Disney Junior has a character on a TV show who has a professional career and hair isn't overly processed, permed and weaved; she's flaunting her natural curls, just like us. I want our daughters to love themselves, inside and out, and I am teaching them that this love includes their hair, which many black women torture themselves to change. Creator, Chris Nee, is my new hero.
Even if you somehow can't understand my tears of joy, hop on over to Disney Jr., and check out this show. It's refreshing life lessons, positive imagery, encouragement of imagination usage, and cute story lines, make it a treat for all who watch. With the show been renewed for a second season and toys being released later this year, character interactions at the parks can't be far behind. If we see Doc during the Disney Junior character meal at Disney's Hollywood Studios this fall, I think I'll scream and faint like a Justin Beiber fan. For now, I'll be content with cracking a little smile every time I hear our daughter sing a song from the show. I'll even hum a couple bars myself..."I feel better, so much better..." thanks to Chris Nee, Disney Junior, and Brown Bag Films.
Stay crunchy, friends!