Misty Copeland Launches Barbie for Brown Girls

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Source: Kenesha Williams, motto.time.com

Growing up, I had two big interests—and they both started with the letter B: Barbie and ballet. My mom enrolled me in a local ballet company as a little girl, and I loved the music and the movement of ballet. But I couldn’t help but notice at practices and recitals that little girls that looked like me were few and far between. While I felt resplendent in my pink leotards, ballet slippers and “flesh-toned” tights, those tights were never quite the color of my own little legs, nor did they reflect the variety of hues that were found in the skin tones of the women in my family. But that didn’t deter me from dancing my heart out at each and every recital.

Although I loved ballet as a little girl, it would have felt good to know of other dancers who looked more like me. Had I known earlier in my dance “career” that there were other ballerinas that reflected the image I saw in my mirror, I might have pursued it longer than I did. I later realized that there were black professional ballerinas because I saw an episode of The Cosby Show in which the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed. Imagine my surprise when I saw that there was a dance troupe full of brown girls like me.

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Luckily, today’s little girls are able to see themselves reflected in the world of both ballet and now Barbie, thanks to the launch of the Misty Copeland Barbie doll. Through the Copeland doll, we have an image of a ballerina that looks like a segment of the population that we don’t see in many major ballet companies. TheMisty Copeland Barbie doll is part of Barbie’s “Sheroes” program, which spotlights and honors female heroes who break boundaries, as Copeland did when she became the first black female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater.

In a video shared by Barbie’s official Facebook page on Monday, Copeland discusses how the doll inspired her as a child. “I was a very shy girl,” she says, “so I felt this instant connection with Barbie. She was a way for me to dream. She was extremely feminine, and I think what every little girl wants to be—because Barbie can transform into anything.”

Read more: How Sanya Richards-Ross is Preparing for Her Last Olympics

Some people, however, may not think to aspire to certain goals if they don’t have role models who’ve paved the way for them. I am a believer in the idea that we all need windows and mirrors in order to reach our fullest potential.

Windows and mirrors is a phrase coined by Emily Style as part of the National Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) Project. Mirrors are stories or images that reflect your culture and reality and help you understand yourself, while windows offer you a view into someone else’s experience. When your world is solely filled with mirrors, your worldview lacks diversity. And when you only have windows into others’ experiences, you can feel as if you don’t belong. The new Misty Copeland Barbie doll is both a mirror to other brown girls to show that they can achieve their dreams and a window for other little girls to see that ballet isn’t just for one type of girl.

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I think it’s very important for a young person to not set limits on what their dreams are,” Copeland says in the Barbie video. “If they have something in their mind and they feel strong about it, give it your all.” Thanks to the Misty Copeland Barbie doll, girls of all races can dream bigger than ever because they now live in a world where brown girls, ballet and Barbie can be one and the same.

Kenesha Williams is the founder and editor-in-chief of Black Girl Magic Lit Mag, a speculative fiction literary magazine featuring black female main characters.

Online Retailer Celebrates Black Culture

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Source: Kiara Collins, Blavity.com

School is almost back in session, and this year, you could be laced up with some of the most creative school supplies that anyone in your lecture class has ever seen!

Innovative Supplies, a black-owned, online retail store is owned and operated by 27-year-old mom and soon to be college student, Nneka. With the hopes of becoming a history teacher in her local area, she began Innovative Supplies as the first step to a bigger vision of “being a positive change in her community.” Innovative Supplies includes notebooks and apparel that showcase black art by black artists and weave together elements of black culture from the past and the present. Her goals for Innovative Solutions are just as impactful as the business itself, which includes depositing profits into a black-owned bank, hiring local minority youth and using environmentally sourced materials.

If you browse through the Innovative Supplies website, you’ll soon understand why products sold out in less than 24 hours. Some of her handmade school supplies include a notebook with an image of Tupac Shakur wearing a t-shirt with the words, “I Am Sandra Bland,”  drawn by artist, @Raheim81art. Another notebook that is slated to be coming soon has the iconic Michael Jordan crying meme in various sizes all over it, which is sure to make your classmates and maybe even a few professors laugh out loud.

With over 8550 orders to ship out before she can take on new orders, Nneka and Innovative Supplies are off to an amazing start! Along with the dope designs that Nneka offers on her site, customers can even request custom designs making her business one that is sure to represent all that encompasses black culture and excellence. There’s no question that Innovative Supplies is living up to it’s motto of being a company that “stands to bridge the gaps between minority owned business and helping to foster more group economics.”

When the order forms are back up and running, Innovative Supplies can look forward to an order from me and a large number of folks who are already itching to have these amazing products in their hands. Shout out to Nneka and her team who are definitely moving the culture forward and doing their part to sustain the wealth of black businesses.

UPDATE: Nneka has recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to purchase machines that’ll enable her to sell Innovative Supplies in larger quantities and at a faster rate. Feel free to donate to this black-owned business if you want to see more from her and the Innovative Supplies brand.

 

Google Launches Made with Code

Visit Google’s Website: Made w/ Code

Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the USA, National Center for Women & Information Technology, MIT Media Lab, TechCrunch, and Seventeen Join Efforts to Inspire Girls to Code

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – June 19, 2014 – Today, Google is joining with supporters, including Chelsea Clinton, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the USA, Mindy Kaling, MIT Media Lab, National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), Seventeen and TechCrunch, to kick off Made with Code. The initiative will aim to inspire millions of girls to learn to code, and to help them see coding as a means to pursue their dream careers.

“Coding is a new literacy and it gives people the potential to create, innovate and quite literally change the world,” said Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube. “We’ve got to show all girls that computer science is an important part of their future, and that it’s a foundation to pursue their passions, no matter what field they want to enter. Made with Code is a great step toward doing that.”

Made with Code includes:
Blockly-based coding projects like designing a bracelet 3D printed by Shapeways, learning to create animated GIFs or building beats for a music track.
Video profiles of girls and women who explain how they’re using code to do what they love — in fashion, music, dance, animation, cancer research and more.
A resource directory for parents and girls to find more information about new local events, camps, classes and clubs.
Collaborations with organizations like Girl Scouts of the USA and Girls, Inc. to introduce Made with Code to girls in their networks, encouraging them to complete their first coding experience.

All of this attempts to solve a fast-growing problem in computer science. “I think coding is cool, but most girls don’t. Less than 1 percent of high school girls see computer science as part of their future,” said Mindy Kaling, the actress, comedian and writer. “Made with Code lets girls see coding not just as something they can do, but something they’d love to do.”

“When I received my first computer in the mid-80s, women comprised 37 percent of CS graduates. Today, despite ever-increasing job opportunities, it’s less than 16 percent. We need to help girls see themselves as the next generation of coders, and, with efforts like Made with Code and the No Ceilings Initiative, make sure there’s full participation in technology’s future.” — Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation.

Google is also committing $50 million over three years to support programs working to increase gender diversity in CS. We’re piloting a project with DonorsChoose.org to reward teachers that support girls who take CS courses on Codecademy or Khan Academy. We’re also working with the Science and Entertainment Exchange to encourage more female engineer characters depicted family TV and film. This is just a first step, and it builds on the $40 million we’ve invested since 2010 in organizations like Code.org, Black Girls Code, Technovation and Girls Who Code.

These efforts are based on Google’s new nationwide research, which shows that CS exposure is crucial in pre-college years, parental encouragement is key and that girls who have positive perceptions of CS as a career, and understand its potential for social impact, are much more likely to pursue it.

“The numbers hurt: Women constitute more than half of the professional workforce, but only a quarter of workforce in tech,” said Lucy Sanders, CEO, and co-founder of NCWIT. “It’s a problem, bordering on a crisis. We won’t solve it easily, or quickly. But Made with Code is a great step in the direction of reversing this trend, and getting more and more girls to use coding to accomplish amazing things by doing what they love.”

Made with Code kicks off tonight with an event in New York City where over 100 teenage girls from local organizations and public schools will work on coding projects and witness first-hand how women use code in their dream jobs, like Danielle Feinberg (Pixar), Miral Kotb (iLuminate Dance Technology) and Erica Kochi (UNICEF’s Innovation Unit). The event will also feature girl coders like Brittany Wenger who’s using code to fight cancer.

Supporters of and organizations involved with Made with Code include: Adafruit, American School Counselor Association, Black Girls Code, Code.org, Codecademy, Computer Science Teachers Association, DonorsChoose.org, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Who Code, iLuminate, KIPP Schools, littleBits, National Association for College Admission Counseling, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, National Center for Women & Information Technology, Mindy Kaling, MIT Media Lab, Mozilla Webmaker, PSTA, Seventeen, Shapeways, Sew Electric, Seventeen, Shapeways, Teach for America, TechCrunch, Technovation Challenge, and U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

Girls Inc.

Visit Girls Inc: Website

Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold SM through life-changing programs and experiences that help girls navigate gender, economic, and social barriers. Research-based curricula, delivered by trained, mentoring professionals in a positive all-girl environment equip girls to achieve academically; lead healthy and physically active lives; manage money; navigate media messages; and discover an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math. The network of local Girls Inc. nonprofit organizations serves 136,000 girls ages 6 – 18 annually across the United States and Canada.

Chelsea Clinton Wants More Girls Involved In STEM

Chelsea Clinton Quote + Rocky Robinson

Listen To The Podcast Below: Chelsea Clinton Wants More Girls Involved In STEM

 

Taken from Marketplace TECH Report

Interview by Ben Johnson
Tuesday, June 24, 2014 – 05:00

STORY
Chelsea Clinton has been out in force these past few weeks. Last week, she spoke at an event in New York City for Google’s pledge of $50 million dollars to close the gender gap in the tech industry. This week, she’s in Denver, Colorado for the Clinton Foundation’s event Clinton Global Initiative America, where she’s been hosting conversations about getting women and girls to engage with careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The disparity between the number of women and men in STEM fields is no secret. It’s a problem that Clinton says starts as early as middle school.

“Research is saying that teachers call on girls less than they call on boys in math and a science classes…which sends an invisible but insidious message their opinions aren’t as valued as boys,” says Clinton.

She also cites research showing that gender and race can play a role in the effectiveness of medical treatment, which makes increasing diversity in the science and medical fields all the more important.

Recently, Clinton’s $600,000 salary as a correspondant for NBC came under scrutiny. When asked if she felt the response was inherently gendered, Clinton pointed to a need for a larger conversation about opportunity for women on all levels instead of zeroing in on top earners like Sheryl Sandberg or Meg Whitman.

“The real question is how do we ensure that there are both equal opportunities for women, and that that work is valued commensurately…one of the challenges is, you know, we have so many fewer women, that those comparisons are still just hard to make,” says Clinton.

In her own life, Clinton credits her parents for encouraging her to have diverse interests — she still remembers when Santa Claus brought her a commodore computer.

Featured in: Marketplace Tech for Tuesday, June 24, 2014