By: Jacque Reid, Editor In Chief
Whether you are Single or married, most of us dreamed of being a princess when we were girls. So as actress KeKe Palmer prepares to make history tonight, taking the Broadway stage and becoming the first African American woman to play Cinderella, I am a little emotional.
As a little girl, I had Black dolls, but I never saw a Black princess on tv or in the movies or in books. So, I’m having a moment as KeKe prepares to take the stage. I was just as emotional years ago when singer/actress Brandy played Cinderella in a television special (executive produced by Whitney Houston). I was an adult, but my eyes filled with tears of joy because I knew that all the little brown girls out there now would connect to Cinderella in a very personal way.
Anyone who misses the significance of this should Google the 1939 Clark Doll Experiment (which has been repeated a few times in more recent years), or the documentary, ‘Why Do You Play With Black Dolls?’. Both reveal that exposing Black children to images that reflect what is positive about their culture and heritage has a profound impact on that child’s self esteem. Last year, I attended the current production of Cinderella and loved it. The audience was filled with little girls dressed as Cinderella. Adorable. But it bothered me that I did not notice any Black girls in the audience.
I bet tonight’s audience will be filled with many Black little girls dressed as Cinderella. But this is not just a pivotal moment for little Black girls. It’s just as crucial for all little girls to see an African American, as well as other nationalities, playing a classic princess like Cinderella. Racism is rooted not just in fear, but also in entitlement. Even if you don’t hate people of color, if you believe you are better than us, even subconsciously… it will change the way you relate to us. Seeing a Black Cinderella can plant the seed that all girls are truly created equal and can be princesses. That to me is a tiny, yet vital step to making the world a better place.