Who knew Barbie would become one of our favorite vloggers in 2020? While a lot of brands struggled to make a substantial contribution to the #BlackLivesMatter discussion back in June, Barbie seems to be on a mission to help her viewers better understand systemic racism. In contrast to vague messages of solidarity that have been tagged hallmarks of corporate slacktivism, she shares her platform with her friend Nikki who shares personal stories of racial stereotyping from security personnel and educators that she experienced as a Black woman.
“So, there is a huge movement going on. People, millions of people across the world are standing up to fight against racism. And they’re doing this because too often, and for such a long time, people have been treated unfairly. And in some cases, even hurt by others because of the colour of their skin. This stuff isn’t easy to talk about, which is exactly why we have to talk about it,” says Barbie in the beginning of her vlog titled “Barbie and Nikki Discuss Racism.” Barbie Vlogs is a series on the official Barbie YouTube channel where the animated character and her friends do challenges and dive into various topics.
In the past few years, Mattel has been rebranding Barbie as more inclusive by producing a more physically and racially diverse line of dolls. Whether or not they’re simply doing it to score brownie points from parents has been put into question more than once. While a number of Twitter users had positive comments on this particular episode, they are those who were a bit wary of watching a virtual personality tackle such a big issue and found it a bit hard to suspend their disbelief while watching a fictional vlog.
In the video, Nikki reveals that during a sticker selling contest that she and Barbie participated in, a beach security officer stopped her several times to interrogate her and even called her mom even though none of the other contestants got the same treatment. She also shared how her French honour club teacher told her that she only got lucky when she got a perfect score in the exam despite being the best French speaker among her peers. Barbie asks her why she didn’t just stay and prove him wrong, to which Nikki replied, “I don’t want to have to constantly prove and re-prove myself.”
Barbie says Nikki’s stories show how white people get an advantage that they didn’t earn, and black people get a disadvantage that they don’t deserve. The scenarios in the video are ones that a lot of kids can understand, which makes it an effective tool for introducing the topic of microaggressions.
Barbie is among the number of kid-centric brands that are trying to change a culture that encourages ignorance among children. Kids can be political too. If you’re a parent or a teacher who’s looking for resources to help explain other hard-to-navigate topics like avoiding offensive jokes and feeling the blues, would you consider using Barbie Vlogs?
You can watch the entire video below.
Photo screengrab from the “Barbie and Nikki Discuss Racism” vlog
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