This past week, there’s been quite a bit of depressing, despondent, and discouraging news. But one of the bright spots in the midst was that of four-year-old Ariyonna Cotton.
Ariyonna went viral after her hair stylist Shabria Redmond, a rapper who goes by the name @LilWaveDaddy on social media, posted a video of herself comforting the child after she looked in the camera and called herself ugly.
The video garnered over a million views, and Matthew Cherry, author of the book Hair Love, whose corresponding animated short won an Academy Award, started a contest where artists across the nation sent in illustrations of Ariyonna.
Celebrities from Laverne Cox, Viola Davis, to Michelle Obama sent words of encouragement and praise to Ariyonna.
Since then, it’s been a whirlwind week for the four-year-old, Shabria, and her mother Ashante Cotton. The trio found themselves on Tamron Hall’s show today. Check out the clip from their sit down interview below.
Tamron: Your response seemed so quick. What were you feeling in your heart?
Shabria: I was feeling my mom’s pain. I felt my grandmother’s pain. I felt women’s pain in general. I felt like she didn’t know what she was saying. I felt like that before and I understood what I was saying. So I had to correct her so she wouldn’t grow up and actually find out the feeling of it and apply it to her everyday life.
Ashante: I seen it when I came home. I have three kids. So when I saw it, I gotta think about my other three kids and make sure they don’t feel the way Ariyonna felt.
Tamron: Had she ever told you that before?
Ashante: It was the first time for me to hear it. She never said it period. Everyone says she’s a princess and beautiful. And for her to say it, she really felt that way and it really hurt me as her mom.
Tamron: This turned into a national conversation because of the things our girls are hearing. Did you feel the weight of it?
Shabria: I did. Her saying it put weight on me. But when she looked at me and said, ‘What?’ You could tell she didn’t know what she was saying. But she felt something. She could have been speaking for everyone. I felt—I’m shaking because me being in that moment and this woman trusting me around her kids, you know, so for her to see that’s the message I’m giving her child when she’s not around, it strengthens the bond.
Angela Bassett, who had been on the show earlier, wanted to come out and say something to the women and Ariyonna.
Angela: I just thank you for the inspiration. You’re helping a little one but you’re giving such inspiration, and knowledge and grace to the world. People say all kinds of things. They don’t know what to say, then they say the wrong thing. But the way you’re speaking into her life, into her spirit with things not only her outward beauty but the beauty that is her character. I tell my daughter, ‘You’re wise. You’re compassionate, you’re kind. When they look up best friend, it’s a picture of you. And you’re pretty too.’ And they soak it up. She listens to her mommy, to her auntie so it’s not only the things you say about her but the things we say about ourselves as well, knowingly or unwittingly.
You can watch a clip from the interview below.
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