White people get an advantage they didn’t earn, and black people get a disadvantage they don’t deserve, according to Barbie’s latest YouTube “vlog” for children.
The episode, titled “Barbie and Nikki Discuss Racism” was published to 9.6-million subscribers on October 7, to urge youngsters to “stand up to racism” and identify white privilege.
“There is a huge movement going on,” Barbie tells her young viewers. “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 color of their skin. This stuff isn’t easy to talk about, which is exactly why we have to talk about it.”
To discuss the subject, Barbie invited her fictional friend, an oppressed black woman named “Nikki”, to highlight some of her fictional experiences with racism.
“I and so many other black people have to deal with racism,” Nikki said. “All the time. It’s really hurtful and it can be scary and sad and I want to share some stories about that today.”
Nikki explained that she and Barbie had a contest to see who could sell the most stickers at the beach. Nikki said she wasn’t able to sell as many stickers as Barbie because she was stopped by law enforcement three times due to the color of her skin.
“They asked me all these questions, over and over, and they even called my mom,” she explained.
Nikki said the security officers thought she was doing something bad because she wasn’t white and privileged, like Barbie.
A second example was offered, in which Nikki made a perfect score on an entrance test for a French Honor Club at school. Despite speaking French better than her white peers, the teacher told Nikki she only “got lucky” on the exam because she is black.
“People did these things to me because I was black and they made the wrong assumptions about me,” Nikki said.
“They don’t make those assumptions about white people like me,” Barbie added. “That’s not fair. Because that means that white people get an advantage that they didn’t earn, and black people get a disadvantage they don’t deserve.”
“Exactly,” Nikki replied. “It’s really serious. Some people even get hurt when others think the wrong things about them. That’s exactly why people are marching. Because when enough of us stand together, people pay attention.”
Barbie goes on to tell her young viewers that if they don’t speak out against racism and white privilege then they’re guilty of allowing it to continue.
Once upon a time, children’s entertainment was criticized for subtle attempts to influence and indoctrinate their young viewers. Now it’s unapologetically employed to disperse blatant propaganda and recruit vulnerable children for the sake of a political cause.
What’s evident is that we can no longer assume innocence because of familiarity with a brand a decade ago, or because a program is pitched to kids. Now more than ever, parents need to be well aware of the messages that are being communicated to their children. Because as it’s been said, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”