I Can Be Who I Wanna Be, Can You?

A lingering concern for many years has been in regards to how various people in our world are presented. Issues stem from gender, sexuality, race, religion, ethnicity, and more. As much as we fight to rid our world of these prejudices they still surround us everyday. They can be seen on magazine covers, in ads, on commercials, posters, heard from everyday people, and posted on various social media platforms.  Eventually, we learn just ignore these things and shake our heads.

Now that I am twenty-one years old I understand what is socially acceptable and what is discriminatory. When I get older I will want to teach my children what is unacceptable and hurtful so that they will also know better. Hopefully by then the past stereotypes will just be history and we will no longer have to worry about them. However, as much as I want to believe I will be super mom, I cannot control everything especially video games.

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 9.01.28 PMI have played numerous video games including Nintendo Wii in which I was required to create a personal avatar. To me it was simple red hair, female, done! After reading an article called “Blacks Deserve Bodies Too: Design and Discussion about Diversity and Race in a Teen Virtual World” by Yasmin B. Kafai, Melissa Cook, and Deborah A. Fields, I began to think otherwise. This article discuses how whyville, an online communication and exploration site allows one to create an avatar and interact with others.

avatar: \ˈa-və-ˌtär\  :someone who represents a type of person, an idea, or a quality/ computers : a small picture that represents a computer user in a game, on the Internet, etc.

Imagine your child, cousin, or close friend extremely excited going to play their new video game that they got for a holiday and realizing they cannot recreate them self? There is no skin tone to match theirs or body color. What does this teach a child about “normalcy?”  If an avatar is supposed to be a representation of someone what does it tell us when we are not an option to be represented?

How ignorant have we become to forget to include our acceptations of all humans in children’s games?

The world has been fighting for equality for decades, now it is time to apply it everywhere. As an avid Disney fan I did not realize that it was not until 2009 that they had a movie that stared an African American princess and that Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 9.06.40 PMupset me, 2009! Where else are we forgetting to include a variety of peoples?

We want our world to accept everyone regardless of how they define themselves. If we are going to continue preaching equality and acceptance of all  it must be an all-in effort, video games, movies, magazines, social media and more. Who gets to decide what the “right” avatar depiction is.

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