By SHAWN TAYLOR
Now that my daughter remembers things with remarkable recall, is capable of critical thought, has a keen eye for the differences between people and the ability to provide and understand context, I have to admit: parenting feels like a kind of ridiculous warfare. It’s you (and everyone that loves you and your family) versus the anti-girl marketing commercial complex. The enemy is better armed and much better funded. So lately, most of my time’s been spent trying to protect my daughter from the fallout. She will not be collateral damage.
The first casualty of this war is, you’re forced to acknowledge that love isn’t enough. This obliterates your parental innocence. I thought all I had to do was love and provide for my child, and things would travel along smoothly. I never thought I’d have to protect her on so many different fronts. The attacks against girls come in all forms, but the broader battlefields are: the idea of the princesses being the only hero girls have; pink and frilly clothing; and cleaning toys aimed at girls.
Boys get toys that encourage adventure and other things that demand absolutely nothing for girls to do. This is an exhausting, yet fairly easy battle to fight. Our home is an only warrior princesses zone. If she wants to play a princess who’s in charge of her life and not waiting around for a man to come and rescue her… I’m okay with this. If she wants to play with a toy kitchen, she’ll be given a set of tools and a tool belt as another option. If she wants to wear pink and frilly clothing, we lie out other choices and make sure she knows that she can wear whatever color and style she wants, that she doesn’t have to dress (or act) like a stereotypical girl.
Like I said—exhausting, but manageable. Many families of color are already engaged in another type of war, and they don’t even know it because the enemy has been in their homes since the birth of their child. I’m talking about the profoundly Eurocentric books of nursery rhymes and fairy tales that litter our shelves…
Read the rest of Shawn Taylor’s “Fairy Tales For Black Girls” at EBONY.com.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.