Friday, March 30, 2007

DQ: Proud Woman of Color?

DQ has taken a new direction in her fascination with the Disney Princesses. She's shunned Cinderella, Belle, and Aurora. Now she favors Jasmine and Pocahontas. She just saw Pocahontas, and yes, I used it as a "teaching moment." We got out mommy's textbooks to see a portrait of the real Pocahontas and to talk about how movies aren't always the true story. (I didn't mention that Pocahontas was 13 when she met John Smith... that can wait.) Plus a little about land ownership and definitions of savagery. You can take the mother out of grad school, but you can't take the grad school out of the mother.

Her latest obsession is Mulan.

She's never even seen the movie Mulan, although she wants to desperately. We did get a book about the legend of Mulan -- in Vietnamese and English translations -- at the library and she's been poring over that.

I'm a little intrigued. Why this sudden interest in a new wave of princesses? Spouse and I chatted about it, and wonder if she is finding some link to these three as women of color. She's also tended to be drawn to the non-white students in her pre-school class (among the girls but not really among the boys). And we have worked very hard to talk about different places, different cultures, different languages, etc.

This is an experience that I can't really share with her as she experiences American society as a minority. Well, maybe. Will she even be thought of as a minority? Will she think of herself as Asian? Mixed? Nothing? I want her to have and to celebrate both of her cultures. But what will she want?

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4 Comments:

Anonymous kr said...

Have you seen Mulan? It's like my favorite of the modern Disneys. You have to be ready to explain the Chinese attitudes toward women ... and then explain that no Chinese Emporer was probably nearly as enlightened about it as this one is at the end. Except for maybe couple of powerful Chinese Empresses--I don't know, though; I rather suspect they had to toe the Elizabeth I line.

But Mulan in the movie is determined, smart, loyal, honorable ... and, after some work, athletic ;). Also undeniably attractive, of course :).

The Huns are more monster than human. The tragedy of an entire village raized is shown by a dropped and trampled little girl's doll.

On the color issue, my first the other day positted that she liked better lighter color skin on people, not darker (her school is very colormixed). Navigating that was a interesting ... a combination of "that's fine" (it's reasonable and presumably instinctive that she like the color of her own skin best) and "but there isn't anything less good about the other colors" and "I'm glad you are friends with [this rainbow of people]."

Hopefully the public school she'll start next year will be as colormixed as the Catholic one she has been in ... oh I hope oh I hope ...

Anyhow, though, were I you, I would be thrilled that DQ is preferencing that way ... because it wasn't so long ago that media and our culture made minority children own their 'not-as-good'ness from infancy. Every kid who escapes that, I get pretty excited :).

10:20 AM  
Blogger Jade said...

I second that... Mulan is one of my favorite newer Disney movies as well.

I think there is something instinctivly soothing about surrounding yourself with people you perceive to be like you. Gayle has yet to point out people's skin color, but I notice she leans towards kids who match her temperment (somewhat shy or apprehensive about new things) Our next door neighbors are a mixed couple (he is Chinese and she is white) they have two boys who they lovingly refer to as "half-breeds." The couple were a bit wary about living in our area because there were so many mixed couples in California, and so few in our town, but the oldest boy (now 11) generally considers himself to be American and doesn't give race much thought.

4:14 PM  
Blogger ~N said...

"Anyhow, though, were I you, I would be thrilled that DQ is preferencing that way ... because it wasn't so long ago that media and our culture made minority children own their 'not-as-good'ness from infancy. Every kid who escapes that, I get pretty excited :)."

HERE HERE. Thank all your lucky stars that as much change that's happened in the last 32 years (in Oregon, particularly), Has happened. DQ/WB won't have to deal with all the crap I endured growing up. Woo-hoo!

6:33 PM  
Blogger Quinn said...

Woo-hoo indeed! While I have historical issues with the Pocahontas thing, I think the overall trend is very positive.

10:27 AM  

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