By Jean Gasho
Yesterday you appeared on ITV’s This Morning campaigning about the lack of black dolls/toys in British stores. I see you as a young black woman who is passionate about issues pertaining to race and diversity. You are brave and not afraid to speak out. Toys play a huge part of our children’s development so it’s good you brought this topic up.
However, within minutes of your campaign being aired on live TV, the viewers of This Morning took to social media and branded you a racist as they claimed you are always trying to make none-issues about race relevant. Most This Morning viewers whom your campaign was targeted at were rather enraged by you. There were headlines all over social media accusing you of the very same thing you are trying so hard to fight, ‘racism and discrimination’.
Jamelia, though I do not agree with what the viewers of This Morning branded you, I think I understand where they are coming from. Unfortunately, you do come across as a black woman who is always complaining to white people. It becomes like nagging, and it can be quite annoying considering they are bigger issues about race going on in the world.
Last year you also did a campaign on the lack of diversity in the UK make-up industry as you claimed you always struggled to find your shade of make-up.
As a black woman, I personally have never had a problem with some of the issues you keep bringing up, especially the make-up one. Even when I lived in a very small white-dominated town, I was able to get my shade of make-up in my local Superdrug.
You said black women struggle to get make-up in the UK, and you took the retailers to task in your campaign.
With all the respect my black sister, I found your campaign to be invalid and exaggerated. I wrote about it in the Huffington Post UK and on my blog, and I found that many black women in the UK testified that British mainstream cosmetic retailers did try their best to incorporate all shades of make-up for black women.
As a black woman, my passion for the black race also runs deep in my veins. But I do feel like at times you do make noise about issues that are just not there, and you do not give credit where its due. I think maybe you do this for publicity, as it is part of your job, but unfortunately, it gives a lot of negative publicity to black women in the UK and our struggle in society.
In your latest campaign, you said you ‘struggled’ to find black dolls for your daughters in toy stores.
I honestly can not understand how you struggled to find black dolls for your girls. I have a 13-year-old daughter and when she was little, I was still able to buy her black dolls, this is going back 13 years ago. I remember buying a lot of her black dolls from my local Home Bargain, which is a popular store in UK. I was able to buy these dolls in a white-dominated town where there was hardly any black people, yet in the shops black dolls were readily available and not stashed in back shelves as you claimed.
Today my 2-year-old daughter has several dark skinned dolls I bought from Mothercare, Asda and Disney. To say we “struggle” to find black dolls in British stores is rather an unfair exaggeration.
If anything I had a black friend tell me that I should stop buying black dolls for my daughter because they would ‘scare’ her to which I was very offended. Maybe your campaigns should be aimed at educating black mothers that they should buy their little girls dolls which look like them.
I feel this is an issue that has nothing to do with white people. It’s not really about the lack of black dolls is it, but rather it’s about awareness to black people.
My black sister Jamelia, I think you do complain too much to white people about racism. I feel this is a serious problem we have as black people. We always see ourselves as victims, even when we are not.
Yes, racism and discrimination exist, but why can we not be the change instead of always complaining.
Jamelia you are a big brand yourself. In all fairness, in your career, you have had opportunities that a lot of black women have not had. Why can you not use your fame to be the positive change for black women?
“Being black is not a disability. Why do you want white people to manufacture and sell make-up for your dark skin?”
Why can you not be innovative about the things which you feel are lacking for black people? Why do you want white people to solve your black problems? Maybe it’s about time you stop looking at the white man for the solution.
Jamelia, why do you want white people to make and sell black dolls for your girls? Why do you want white people to manufacture and sell make-up for your dark skin?
Being black is not a disability. What has stopped you Jamelia, from creating your own brand of make-up that specifically targets black women? What has stopped you Jamelia, from creating your own line of dolls for ethnic minority children?
As a child growing up in Africa, I made my own hand-made rug dolls. Today my two boys make their own action figures out of cardboard, paper and tin foil. They are not affected by any lack of black toys in stores. They are creative enough to make their own toys. We black people have so much talent in us. Why can we not use it to make a positive change rather than always being at the mercy of white people?
We have to grow up and be our own change. John Boyega said that it’s about time black people stop complaining about racism and be the change they want to be.
My debut blog on the Huffington Post was exactly about this. My article was titled: Why I will no longer complain to white people about race.
You do not have to take my advice, for it is just my opinion, but I felt this was something worth saying to you, black sister to black sister. You are fighting a losing battle, as you are always on TV campaigning about race issues which don’t even exist. Stop complaining to white people Jamelia and be the positive change yourself.