Leilani Brooks is a mom and teacher. While looking for ways to teach her children about their history and culture, she discovered that there weren’t enough resources for teaching African American history to young children. After purchasing a set of flashcards depicting American Presidents and seeing our 44th President, Barack Obama represented, Leilani was inspired. She called long time friend, educator and historian, Stevi Meredith. Brooks told Meredith she had an idea to make flashcards about African American accomplishments and culture. After some brainstorming, the two came up with what is now ABC Me Flashcards: The African American Edition.
Positive Community Change: I have wanted to take-on the project of customizing dolls hair, to have the look and feel of styles, and textures of ethnic women and girls, for a long time. As a young girl, I remember loving to play with my dolls… mainly with my Barbie’s. I thought the dolls where beautiful, but always noticed that my African American dolls did not look like me. Their features did not look like mine, and their hair certainly did not look or feel like my hair! This did affect my view of what beauty was.
There have been quite a few studies done that show that African American boys and girls often think of black dolls as bad and white dolls as good. Of course, this is not something that the parent is teaching their child. So why are they getting these mixed messages about good and bad skin color, or good and bad hair? It all has to do with the images they see as they grow up. If a child is constantly looking at images, dolls, television, books and magazines – and only seeing beauty as something or someone with non-ethnic features and long, straight hair – then they are going to assume that this is what beauty is. It is something that has hurt young people for centuries. In articles, videos and news stories such as “Black Girls Want White Dolls”, “What a Doll Tells Us About Race”, “Black Doll White Doll”, “White and black children biased toward lighter skin” & “A Girl Like Me” – it is apparent that this is something that affects many children and adults; and that there is a need for positive community change.
The Natural Girls United! project has turned into a business, and is something that I hope will help to bring a positive view of what ethnic beauty is. There is a serious need for our young girls to be able to have dolls that look like them. It is something that affects their self esteem and confidence, and how they fell about themselves. But each day we learn that it is important to show them and teach them that their beauty is beautiful.
Natural Girls United
Founder, Owner & Designing Artist
Naturally Beautiful Hair Blog & Website
“Our Beauty Recognized”
Like most young girls with kinky/curly hair, my daughter Sophia was not happy with her kinks and curls because of the doll I was putting in her hands every day. Sophia wanted long straight hair, and she even started expressing a strong dislike for her facial features and skin tone. With the help of my daughters, we created “The Angelica Doll” — A natural hair 18-inch doll for young girls.
As I began to develop The Angelica Doll and give serious thought to the things I wanted to do for young girls, I realized that I had been influenced by society’s standard of beauty for as long as I could remember. Here I am – 27 years old, and I am honestly just beginning to walk into who I am, my natural beauty. I want this to happen earlier, not only for my daughters but for your daughter, your niece, your sister, and for all young girls around the world. I want this to happen for all the young girls who never felt pretty enough because of their kinks, curls, wider noses or fuller lips.
I’m creating Angelica to let girls know that they are beautiful. Our girls need to see a reflection of their own unique beauty. It’s time for our young girls to have a new standard.
These dolls are designed and made up as I go. Each doll has their own individual look and personality!! I NEVER make the same doll twice. Each doll is one of a kind. However I will consider doing something similar to a previous look.
I started making handmade crochet dolls/toys many years ago for various charity organizations and after several request, I have recently started making some of my dolls available to the public.
Zimbabwean inspired street/surfwear; hand-finished Longboards&Guitars! Style,cars,art,radness. LBC//LA