Special needs

It's a sad day when a toddler is told she can't be Elsa

"Apparently, certain people take offence to non-Caucasian toddlers dressed as Disney Princesses."

11148406_10206293456755853_8648338664625794007_n Samara dressed as Elsa. Photo via Rachel Muir (Facebook)

I was unaware of the depths of hatred some people hold inside them. How else to explain the behaviour of a woman and her two daughters who felt motivated to tell a three-year-old she shouldn’t wear an Elsa costume from Disney's Frozen because she’s not white. Apparently, certain people take offence to non-Caucasian toddlers dressed as Disney Princesses.

Australian mom Rachel Muir took to Facebook on May 31, telling her followers that a woman and her two daughters told Rachel's daughter Samara, "Anna and Elsa aren't black and black is ugly and you're black." Little Samara, who is of Aboriginal heritage, was in tears after the encounter.

I mean, honestly, if a kid wants to dress up as any character from a movie, do we really need to pigeonhole them to characters who are the same race? If so, the closest my four-year-old daughter Syona would get to a Disney character would be Mowgli from The Jungle Book (although she does kind of resemble him at mealtime) or Princess Jasmine (but even that is incorrect, if we’re aiming for total accuracy here). Oh wait! Neither of those characters use a neon-pink titanium wheelchair. Let’s get down to exactly what this is: racism. Discrimination is still alive and well in this world.

As a visible minority, I’ve faced my share of racist comments and actions. I'm sure there have been people who chose not to be my friend because of the colour of my skin, and I wasn’t even aware. Syona’s cerebral palsy is a visible disability that often attracts extra attention. Eyes sometimes linger a little too long on her wheelchair. Mostly, the attention is positive. Many kids ask questions and approach her, and that's great as it encourages interaction. Many times I don’t even notice the extra stares because Syona and I are having too much fun. I know that may change and our experiences won’t always be like a Disney fairy tale, but I worry about discrimination when and if we get there.

There are times I really dislike the Internet. The fact that people feel empowered to troll around saying things they would never say in person is enough to make many confident, talented people second-guess themselves. But sometimes the Internet does exactly what it's supposed to, like in the case with Samara. It connects us, allows us to share stories and rally to support each other with information. That’s what happened here. It was heartwarming to hear of the global support for Samara after Rachel's post went viral. I hope that her “in real life” community is doing the same. While virtual support is incredible, nothing beats having people around you that really care. I hope she is surrounded by so much love (and I suspect she is) that these moments are overshadowed by ones of acceptance and love.

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy. Read all of Anchel’s Special-needs parenting posts and follow her on Twitter @AnchelK.

This article was originally published on Jun 25, 2015

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