Woke Girls: Dolls Taking on Racism, Adversity and Empowerment
By Poornima Peiris
“Any kid should be able to see their experience reflected in the media and to have a doll who shares your story is game changing." -Mickey Millar, Creator of Woke Girls
Confidence is powerful. We all have an inner power within us to face adversity. Especially at a young age, it is important for kids to have diverse role models that they can identify with to empower them in their journey to adulthood. Woke girls, a unique line of dolls & chapter book series celebrating the many diverse girls of America are here to bring this vision into reality. Mickey Millar, a Harvard graduate & the creator of woke girls firmly believes that representation matters & any kid should be able to see their experience reflected in the media and that having a doll who shares your story is game changing.
The idea for Woke Girls came to life when one day Mickey’s little cousin made an offhand comment, “watch out for the scary police”, when Mickey said she’ll bring a doll for her next time she came to visit. Mickey was shocked & realized the extent to which media had inflicted certain societal perceptions upon the mind of a young girl. This comes as no surprise, following an increase in unjustified police shootings involving African Americans over the recent years. Also, recently the rest of America was a witness to the monster that is supremacy rearing its ugly head in Charlottesville, Virginia. Unfortunately, little girls like Maya is not alone in her fear in these communities, these recent events along with the current political climate is fueling bias against the many diverse identities of America.
There is no question that the recent events at Charlottesville has portrayed to Americans that now more so than ever that diversity matters and that inclusion is important. We cannot let the young children in these marginalized communities grow up in fear. Especially young girls should know that they can pursue their dreams without barriers of race, gender & economic background standing in their way. That is why it is important for our youth to stay “woke” and be aware of what’s happening in the community. Our children need not fear their unique identities that set them apart but rather be taught to embrace their differences & be empowered in their uniqueness.
Woke girls are hoping to empower these young minds by sharing the stories of these diverse identities. Portraying the similar struggles & experiences from real life girls in these communities, woke girls are hoping to empower the youth in these communities to embrace their identity & be a positive motivation to create their own destinies. This is why I am proud to be part of the Woke Girls team to help bring this vision into reality & help young girls wake up to their power.
The team is currently working on producing the first doll and the first chapter book in the Woke Girl series: Shemeka Cooper, an African American doll. She is a working class girl in a single parent household who dreams of having equal opportunities in education to pursue her goals. Some of the other dolls we are planning on introducing are Milagros, a Latin American girl, Afreen, a Middle Eastern girl, Tam, an East Asian girl & Zoey, a multiracial girl. Aside from the everyday worries of a normal teenager growing up in America, these girls are also facing difficult issues such as immigration, cultural assimilation, gender identity and religious discrimination. In the chapter books, while tackling those issues in the real world these characters will travel to the magical land of Woke World, where each of the girls will come into their “woke” power. Woke girls promise to deliver on authenticity and the dolls will have features attributing to their ethnicity.
It is important to note and address the lack of representation of these identities & their struggles in popular culture. Representing them in the media is a direct approach for Americans to become familiar & empathize with these identities. Sharing these stories will allow for better acknowledgment of the struggles of real life woke girls. Each story will align with social emotional frameworks & social justice standards targeting elementary range students. Demonstrating how the Woke Girls tackle their problems can be inspiring to young girls today to help with the problems they face every day as well. Positive role models for these young minds are essential to dismantle some of the negative stereotypes associated with these identities. “These characters show young people that the very thing the world would hold against you is actually the key to you waking up to the power within you”.
The dream of Woke girls is to grow into a profitable brand that can help fund community based programs for youth in these marginalized communities. Woke Girls are giving a voice to these diverse identities that are often left out of the mainstream media and hoping to make dolls like Shemeka, Milagros & Afreen households names to tackle the bias and create a sense of familiarity. Growing up as an immigrant in America, working with Woke girls is an exciting journey for me as I am proud to share my struggle and story to contribute to the mission and also helping in creating an upcoming South Asian doll in the series. The struggle is real but fear not woke girls are here to help slay your struggles & as always stay woke to your power!