Black girls are magic, so why shouldn't the holidays be, too?
That's the line of thinking behind the Malaika Mentoring Program's Black Girl Magic Holiday Drive on December 14, a first-of-its-kind gift drive.
Run through the Holiday Wish program at Franklin County Children Services, the Black Girl Magic Holiday Drive will be taking donations at Copious Restaurant, 520 S. High Street, from 6-8 p.m.
WOSU's Debbie Holmes talked to Eboni Partlow, with the Malaika Mentoring program, and Beth Crabtree, Director of Holiday Wish at Franklin County Children Services, about the program.
The below is an automated transcript. Please excuse minor typos and errors.
Debbie Holmes: So Eboni, let's talk about Black Girl Magic Holiday Drive. Why are we aiming at black girls? What was the need there that you felt was so important?
Eboni Partlow: I think that if you look at our community, we know that African-American girls are experiencing socially adverse experiences disproportionately, right? And that also transfers into our agency. They are overrepresented in our agency.
So we wanted to make sure that we had a special event for our girls so that we can reach out to the community and say, "Hey, we need your help to make sure that the holidays are special for them, so that when they open their gifts, that they know that this is a thoughtful and meaningful gift that really impacts who they are and what their interests are."
Debbie Holmes: How does this make the holidays better when black girls can see themselves in their toys and in the books that they get for the holidays?
Eboni Partlow: Right. I think we know that if you see yourself in a positive manner, whether that be on TV or radio, when black girls know that there are people out there who look like them and people out there who care about the gifts that they receive, I think it makes the holidays that more special. We have to remember that our girls are a lot of times in the midst of trauma. The holidays are often times where they don't get gifts at all. They don't have support at all.
Debbie Holmes: And so what are the gifts then that you'd like for people to donate?
Eboni Partlow: We'd like for people to donate natural hair care products. We also would like for people to donate educational or coloring or comic books that feature African-American characters. We also like to see African-American doll babies for our teenagers. We'd like to see biographies or autobiographies of prominent African-Americans. So those are some of the types of gifts that we'd like to see, in addition to some apparel.
Debbie Holmes: Now I understand there have been some difficulties in recent years in finding enough toys that represent black girls or black children. Tell me about the issues you're having.
Beth Crabtree: What we've seen is we run out of African-American dolls on our shelves. So we have a whole section, we have a whole shelf area for our doll babies, and every year we run out of African-American dolls. And it is very important to us as we strive to ensure the well-being of all of our kids that our African-American girls have dolls to play with that look like them, that are beautiful.
Debbie Holmes: And have you ever tried to talk with any of the toy manufacturers about expanding their, you know, offerings?
Beth Crabtree: I have had conversations with general store managers when I've gone in and there's not been enough diversity on the shelves. One of the things that I'm told is when they buy toys, they buy them in bulk, and they get kind of what they get. I don't know if that has changed at all, but we have had conversations with stores about it.
Debbie Holmes: So Eboni, in light of the fact that we're still not having enough black dolls, toys related to black children, in the stores, what do you think can help?
Eboni Partlow: Well, I think one of the things that is helping right now is that Black Girl Magic, the social movement, is really trending right now. And so what we're seeing is a lot of entrepreneurs who are developing their own brands that celebrate Black Girl Magic. So we are, we've sent out links to different websites where our donors can purchase these culturally specific items.
Debbie Holmes: So you guys are having a special event, then, for the black girl magic holiday drive?
Beth Crabtree: Yes, we are. It's going to be on December 14 at Copious. Copius is on South High Street, and it is a restaurant, we are in the bottom part called Notes. It's just south of Front Street. All of our gifts that go to our kids through Holiday Wish have to come from community donors. And so this is a way to ask our community to donate specifically to this population, but also to talk about how amazing our kids are, and that black girls are magic.