Shaping a Kinder Future during Black History Month
As many of you may know, it’s Black History Month. It’s a month dedicated to remembering important people and events in the history of people of African descent. It’s also a time to celebrate African heritage and culture! I personally see it as a reflective period for me as I take time to contemplate on my identity greatly influenced by my Nigerian roots, my Finnish birth as well as my living abroad.
Growing up in the 90’s, I had very few role-models to look up to while none of my friends had a similar cultural heritage. Just like most girls, I loved playing with dolls, yet I was unable to find one with the same skin complexion as mine. Books, comics, animation and popular culture presented very few characters to identify with and so I grew up seeing very little space for people like me. People of colour. This made me feel left out and unappreciated in society which as a result made me feel like I had to work twice as much as my peers in order to get noticed or accepted by people.
I’m thankful that I had such amazing parents to cheer me on to believing in myself. I later dreamt of making a change by empowering others to believe in themselves irrespective of their background, skin colour or gender. As a mother, I strongly believe in the importance of representation that has to do with reflecting reality with all its diversity. Diversity is beautiful and important to embrace at a young age. I want my son to grow up empowered and surrounded by role-models to inspire him. At the same time, I want him to know that he is unique, strong and capable of achieving whatever he wants in life no matter what society throws at him.
Today I’m glad to be surrounded by dolls of all colours, sizes, shapes and genders. In fact, just before I started working at Rubens Barn, I was amused to discover Baby Max – the spitting image of my own little man! I’m happy to be a part of the journey of shaping a kinder future that is inclusive of just about everyone.