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Human Rights

Melody Ellison, American Girl, human rights

In a world where we still have to sound off to remind the world that #BlackLivesMatter, American Girl Doll Melody Ellison is a relevant reminder that the struggle is still very real for minorities and the only way to change that is to speak up and to teach our children to speak up for what’s right and just; human equality across the board.

Melody Ellison, the newest character to join American Girl’s popular BeForever line, is a hopeful and positive 9-year-old African-American girl growing up in Detroit, Michigan, during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. She loves to sing and blend her voice with others in harmony. After seeing her family members face racial discrimination and experiencing it for herself, Melody decides to add her voice to those who are speaking up about inequality.

Melody Ellison, Civil Rights, Equal Rights, American Girl

The beautiful 18-inch Melody doll has dark brown eyes and black hair. Melody comes in a bright blue-and-green houndstooth dress, a blue ribbon headband, and shiny blue patent shoes. Also included is No Ordinary Sound, the first volume in Melody’s classic series, by Denise Lewis Patrick.

My daughters love the American Girl dolls and their stories. Every doll has a story and every story matters. This is so important to me as a mom because I’ve spent my years as a mom teaching my daughters that every human being is created equal, every single person matters and everyone’s story is worth telling. AG perpetuates that same idea through their dolls, books and movies. Of course, some stories need to be told more than others and right now, the world needs Melody Ellison more than ever.

The new, nearly 50-minute film called “An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win” available on Amazon Prime is centered around a 10-year-old girl who sees inequality in all directions. That includes police brutality against peaceful African American protesters, young girls being arrested for eating at an all-white lunch counter, and most traumatically the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing. It’s an old story but ironically, it’s more relevant than ever today.

In the film, Melody personally experiences many forms of racism—racist classmates, wrongly being accused of stealing a dress from a department store and seeing a display of white dolls. Many themes in the film feel especially relevant to what’s happening in America today, in particular, the Black Lives Matter movement that has arisen in the wake of dozens of high-profile murders of African-Americans by the police.

“The story is set in the 1960s but today’s girl can relate to what she’s seeing in the media,” said American Girl President Katy Dickson. She added that young girls today can connect to Melody’s struggle in making sense of the inequalities and injustices around her. The film ends with a hopeful message. “She learns that love and the strength of her family and choosing courage over fear are the things that will sustain her,” Dickson added.

In the face of the recent election, this doll and this movie are a perfect teachable moment and an opportunity for parents to spread a message of love, inclusiveness, and tolerance to their children. I think we need that now more than ever. I get that it’s just a doll and just a kid’s movie but it’s more than that, it’s a chance to be better and to do better as a society.

As one of the marginalized of the world, I know those who are not marginalized have a different perspective not always through a fault of their own but this is your chance to change that for your children. Go the extra step to teach your child kindness and acceptance, to perpetuate the good in the world. We can make the world a better place for our children and help them make it a better place for their children through examples of love and standing up for what’s right. Let’s do this.

In celebration of the release of Melody Ellison and her movie, An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win, American Girl is allowing me to give away a Melody Ellison doll to one lucky subscriber all you need to do is enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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#PrayforParis, Paris, ISIS.Humanity, terrorism, Beirut, Syrian Refugees, Human Rights, Trump, borders, Peace

If you are the praying sort, please pray for humanity. I’ve not written about the situation in Paris until tonight because mostly, I was just trying to sit with it and digest it. I am having ripples of those same vulnerable feelings that overcame so many of us on 9/11. I am not an expert on what has happened, or what is going on in Syria, Beirut or any other place in the world where terrorists are wreaking havoc on our combined societal psyche but I am a citizen of the world.

Here is what I do know. I have seen what ISIS has done. I have witnessed the videos of random beheadings. I know that a terrorist and a Muslim are not the same thing. A Muslim is a member of a faith and a terrorist is someone who strikes fear into the hearts of others with no remorse. A terrorist sneaks in like a lamb and then attacks without provocation. Above all else, I know that we are all humans.

I know that terrorism is an act of cowardice and no matter who is in the line of fire, it is always a loss and we are all victims of the tyranny. The only way to overcome the brutality of terrorism is for those of us who have felt it’s wrath to rise up, band together and fight back. We have to be willing to make the sacrifice to stand up for what we believe in and be brave in the face of our greatest fears. We must believe in our purpose as much as they believe in their hatred.

People all over the world are splitting hairs in the wake of this tragedy. Trying to make sense of such a senseless act leaves heavy hearts making rash decisions and placing unwarranted blame on innocent victims. This is what is happening. Fear mongering is creeping in, perpetuated by politicians and those who already had hearts full of hatred. Bigots are using this as an excuse to proclaim themselves righteous.

The thing is this, we are losing sight of what is really happening. We are being manipulated. The terrorists are winning. If we live in fear and ban refugees from seeking shelter in our country, the terrorists win.

Trump and other members of the GOP are taking this opportunity to push their agenda. Even with fear and sorrow in my heart, in light of the recent terrorists attacks, I refuse to believe that we must shut people out to keep ourselves safe. More stringent vetting before we allow anyone to cross borders anywhere, I get but shutting entire populations out because of where they come from is insane.

Maybe my perspective is a little different because being a Latina I’ve already been on the politicians’ list of people who should be kept out. If we believe the politicians, all Latinos are rapist and drug dealers, all Syrians are members of ISIS and all Muslims are terrorists. The problem with absolute statements is that there are no absolutes in life. People are not an all or nothing sort of situation.

I get it, we’re scared. We are all scared of ISIS and terrorism in general and we should be. They are dangerous, they kill without discrimination and they hate us but I think it is appalling that politicians like Trump would use this terrible tragedy to push a political agenda.

How can we turn our backs on the people who need our help the most? How can we turn refugees seeking political asylum, which could mean the difference between their life or death, away and send them back to imminent death?

I’ve written before about the Latinos coming to the United States to escape persecution in their own country; to give their children a better life. They risk everything to come to the United States to keep their children safe and give them a chance in life, leaving behind everything and everyone they’ve ever known or loved. The Syrians who are seeking refuge are doing the same. They want to live. They have warrior hearts and they need shelter from the terrorism in their own country.

You know, not every Mexican is in the cartel and not every Syrian is a part of ISIS most of these people who are so desperate to cross our borders into the United States just want the chance to survive. How can we deny them that?

Hearts are broken, faith shaken and fear has taken hold of us all but we cannot let that happen because if we do, we condemn those who need us most and we let the terrorist win. We cannot live our lives hiding from the what ifs because in the end, danger can always find a way. We win by retaining our humanity in the face of this crisis. We win by reaching out to those who need us the most and giving them a helping hand, not kicking them in the teeth and sending them home. Remember, over half of these refugees are children.

Pray for Paris. Pray for Beirut. Pray for the Syrians. Pray for humanity. Pray for the whole world. Be safe. Do whatever you need to do to gain your bearings and then open your heart and remember who the true enemy is…ISIS not the Muslim people in general.

I know you’re afraid. We are all afraid but please don’t let this change your humanity.

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