Why We Need More Role Models, And Better Ones At That, For Our Young Girls
I worry for my 1-year-old niece. She is very young now, but when she navigates the schoolyard years from now, I wonder what the music she hears will sound like. I wonder what images will be on her TV screen. Who will be her generation’s Beyoncé? Will her generation be overcome with more women like Joseline Hernandez and ratch reality TV, or will a phenomenal woman attempt to fill the void left behind by the legendary Maya Angelou?
Who will be the champion for women?
Watching reality television, it is easy to think that women – no matter their wealth, education or race – are vessels that feed off greed, violence and foolishness. Whether you are watching “Real Housewives of Orange County” or “Bad Girls Club” one thing remains the same: the women behave badly, and as time goes on, I’m sure things will get worse.
It’s not to say that there are no women in this present day who serve as role models. Unfortunately, their work and influence doesn’t garner the same amount of attention and ratings as bottles and fists being thrown at a “Love and Hip Hop” reunion seems to.
Indeed, we have amazing women who are blazing trails of inspiration. Lupita Nyong’o stuns with humble grace. Kerry Washington paves the way for other young black actresses to become successful. First Lady Michelle Obama remains an inspiration to girls to aim higher and be proud. Mo’Ne Davis showed girls her age (13) and younger that baseball isn’t only a boy’s sport. Gabby Douglas and Misty Copeland overcame adversity to win gold and make history. Then there’s Helen Gayle, Ursula Burnes, and don’t get me started on Oprah. But for every powerful woman of color making waves, people seem to have more of an interest in following foolery.
Popular culture, and those who take it in and, need to stop glorifying this same old scene and begin celebrating something different. People need to stop focusing on selling sex and bigger backsides in their music and try selling substance. We need more diverse images of black women and people on TV (and that’s slowly but surely happening) and on the big screen. And overall, whether through shows like “Blackish” or more events like Black Girls Rock, there needs to be a balance that provides girls with images that are positive and let them know that they can do and be more than they imagined.
The change we seek and role models we desire starts with the call to our current ladies in power to create the difference. Let their platforms and our support give girls of the present and future a louder voice and something better than what’s currently flooding popular culture right now.