|New Adventures. Same Old Bullshit.|
This Sunday, I went to AG Seattle with my closest in proximity AG buddy, who I hadn't seen since my birthday because she was busy traveling during the Giftmas season. We caught up and chatted and we looked at all the new shit together like we enjoy. Some of the new stuff wasn't there, for reasons, so I'll have to use the wiki images until I can go back and take shots. I did that with both Ellie's TV and Addy's new bedtime stuff, which I still need to snap up soon enough.
And we both fell in love with Melody, and are counting down the days to her ultimate release. I will talk more about her at the end. First, I have to take the medicine that is this year's Girl of the Year and all her folderol. I didn't get the clearest pictures because there were quite a few small children running around, so we've got what we've got. If you'd like some clearer pics, take a gander over to AGC's Ace Reporter on all things AG, Lissie and Lilly. Then come back here and see me yell.
To the cut and the complaints. And a very long, very needed historical ending tied to Melody.
TropiKenna of 2016, Or Why AG Has Too Many Hazel Eyes In The Backstock
|Your 2016 Girl of the Year. Passport sold separately.|
And our new girl, Lea Clark, has arrived. She's got the Josefina face, the hazel eyes that at this point AG is popping into every head they can get their hands on because they have like, 24 million pairs, and light brown hair.
Is this the Doll of Color3 we've been hoping for? Is she the heralding of diversity?
I say no and I stand by it. Lea may have tan skin and her books state that she is 1/8th Brazilian in background. But she is not the diversity we should have or are asking for. I don't want to get into blood points and identifications since Lea's not a real person. But lemme put it this way. Lea Clark is as Brazilian as I am, minimally, white and Native American. One of my great grandparents--my paternal grandfather's father--was half white. Another was at least half Native (my mother could have qualified for Native scholarships, if the family had known about things like that back in the 70s and she'd had the resources). Does this make me white or Native? It most certainly does not. I don't ID as either, and Lea likely does not ID as Brazilian. So she is not a doll of color, though my updated images asking for diversity include her as the fifth girl that could plausibly be so. Out of...fourteen dolls, sixteen when you include Sonali and Gwen. Sigh.
Furthermore, as was added to the central AGDoCGotY post (and is being posted here in short form)? Actual, flesh and blood mixed/biracial/multiracial people are one thing. Nothing is wrong with any of them. But the Girls of the Year are not real people, and so their racial background is decided and planned by committee. Again. No frontline character in the GotY since Marisol in 2005 has not been at least part white--over ten years. Not only does a partially white character imply that a modern character of color cannot be accepted in the line without a spoonful of whiteness to make the ethnicity go down, it also implies that the only "real" biracial children are those that are part or mixed with white. Never mind Black Latinxs or any other potential mix, someone's gotta be part white to be biracial. AG is using "This character is biracial/one parent is white, the other is not in some way/a dollop of ethnicity" as a cop out to avoid putting forth a character that is not at least partially white. And they are doing this by design. AG characters are not real ethnicities because they are all created characters. So saying "but real people who are mixed exist in this world" is a bullshit argument because AG characters are not real. It's the same with saying that a woman in skimpy clothes in a video game is fine because the story says that she is self-empowered by her nudity. She's not empowered by anything at all, because she's not a real person. She's a character. They don't dress themselves like that and come up with their backstory. Someone created them to be half naked. And someome created Lea Clark to only be 1/8th Brazilian, when she could have been fully Brazilian and not partially white at all. It's the Thermian Argument. In-universe rules of the world cannot be used to justify what happens in the world, because the world was created. AG characters are created and so able to be changed by AG. In this case, AG continues to design Girls of the Year and only allow them to be partially PoC or outright white, and this is a form of racial bigotry. Biracial people are a real people, and deserve real representation. But this isn't it. AG is using biracial people to avoid having full PoC. Poor representation is not better than none at all.
That being reranted out here, Lea is...a Bleah doll for me. I took Kanani with me to AG Seattle to look at Lea's stuff, and at one point set her right beside a display Lea. They look alike except for face mold--light brown hair, tan skin, and hazel eyes. She looks like a slightly darker Rebecca or a slightly tweaked McSeattle. Sorry not even sorry, I'm not getting TropiKenna for my gang.4
Also, a big change from the past: Lea does not have neck strings. I didn't get a good shot from the back--again, the small children--but she now has a zip tied and seamed neckline, which I will observe later. While this will make head removal much harder for those of us that go around popping them off, it'll still be possible or plausible, and now maybe a parent won't find that their child chopped off the strings and the head fell off. If you'd like them replaced, I'm sure several plausible people will add that to their unofficial doll hospital options.5
|Sundresses in Seattle in Winter.|
|These are aggressively Lea's.|
Books: The first two books, Lea Dives In and Lea Leads the Way, are out now, with a third coming later. I got the first one and haven't cracked it open yet because Reasons of Reading Melody's Book. Even if I can't stand a character for one reason or another, I have the books. That's what Libras do, they buy books. The back of the book has Portuguese terms. Were you expecting Spanish? No. Brazil is a Portuguese speaking country. Learn something. Her first book clocks in at thinner than Grace's at about 150 pages. It'll still get read.
|$32 for this?|
|Suitable for Kanobbles everywhere.|
|Exclusive outfits are all the more reason to call you TropiKenna.|
|Jess is that you? Oh? No.|
Lea's Ocean Kayak Set: Continuing the Jess option, she also has a kayak. Hers is solid where Jess's was inflatable; it includes a paddle, a sail, The life vest to promote water safety, and an underwater camera and scenes
Lea's Beach Accessories: All of Lea's beach stuff is spoilers about her figuring out swimming. Oh well. There's a snorkel and swim mask, swim fins for all that swimming your doll should not be doing in actual water, a towel, and sunscreen for getting close to the Equator. And two turtles, if you're into turtles. One is a baby and the other is coming out of the egg. I'm debating it for Kanani, but it'll have to be on sale or something maybe. I'm into turtles. Speaking of which:
|Sea turtles! Eee!|
|Hiking with a sloth and a kitty. Well, a wild Kitty.|
Lea's Rainforest Hike Accessories: Hiking requires prep. Prep needs stuff to carry with you. So here's a backpack with a drinking tube, a walking stick to poke to make sure that the branch is not a snake, two energy bars in mango and açai, binoculars to look and make sure the branch is not a snake, bug spray that will not save your bare calves from the snake, and a guide on butterflies you can read after the snake bites you. If I get the hiking set, I'll get this with it, and Kaya can go stomping around my PNW backyard making sure things are not snakes.
Three-Toed Sloth: Like the sea turtle, AG has released a three-toed sloth, with little velcro hands so he can hang from things or off TropiK's arm. I am one of the people on this earth who doesn't like sloths. Well, clarification. They are interesting animals to study, but they don't make me squeal and jump like they do for so many people. So this one is probably on the low stack of getting compared to getting anything else this year. Like Melody.
Margay Cat: Margay is not a name of a pet. Lea has no pets for you this year. She just has wild animals that contribute to the preservation of wild fauna. The margay is a small cat native to Central and South America that is in risk thanks to deforestation. Corporations are terrible and should be stopped and climate change is fucking real. Grumble. I'm going to have to think about it, because I'm not super feeling it like I was with I.T.
And having covered all three animals, I'll add this on: I think the animals should have come with informational pamphlets about the animals themselves, their habitat and endangered status. This would help with the education of the people buying AG stuff cause you know some of these knucklechucks aren't going to fucking read anything AG doesn't give them. A bit of dropped the options, here.
|Fruit in English, because fuck Latinx people that's why. Oh and an outfit I like.|
Lea's Fruit Stand: Lea's not as big but big thing for her is a fruit stand. It's pretty complete with some chunky foods, a toucan, hanging fruits, cheese buns, and signs and other stuffs. This could make up for the ice stand of Kanani's I don't have yet and still want, and balm that for a bit, so it's on the post Melody pile. All the writing is in English, though, with the exception of references to Amigos do Oceano in Portuguese and some names of foods.
....Lemme get this shit straight. So y'all could put all that French on Vanilla Bean's Bakery of Doom and Nightmares, but not even try to put Portuguese on Lea's stuff? Major fucking fail.
|It's not a bakery of ultimate doom, thank Gods.|
Lea's Rainforest House: So apparently in the tropics we have to sleep in open air beach houses. Okay then. We've got among the things her laptop, a stove/chimney, chair, table of unshaped wood, lantern,string of seashells, random animals, outdoor shower, hammock, storage bin, window images, and so on and so forth. Firstly, the fact I am saying with a straight face that thank gods it doesn't cost $500 and clocks in at a hair under $400 is a testament to how much I fucking hated that Bakery of Doom. That being said, I'm not impressed by it much. I know the collection is trying to evoke some sort of exotic, tropical feel, but that's the problem, and this house semi-embodies that problem. It implies that this is the kind of place Brazilians live in, and they do not. People in other non-US non-Canadian non-Europan places have things like closed houses, indoor showers, electric stoves, and flush toilets. I don't know yet how this will tie into her stories, but it'd better be a one or two night thing, because the implications are prejudiced. Also the hammock has to hang in only one spot or else if you put a doll in it the roof will fall off.
Whoops, y'all bad.
|Take a picture, it'll last longer.|
The moderns only got one and a half outfits and some accessories, as well as some new souvenir stuff. Let's cover that quickly before getting to the historicals.
Valentine Tee Gift Set: New Year, new valentine shirt in envelope. It's pink and short sleeved and has headphones saying "Listen to your heart." I liked last years with my furry implications much better. Only on discount.
The next three I had to get from the Wiki because I didn't see them in the store. I think one is cafe tied, and the other two were out of stock. That fast.
|Arm Crutches! (pic added 6/28/16)|
...when they are in stock. The store sold out day of. Damn. They also sold completely out of....
|For all your diabetic needs. (picture taken and posted 6/28/16)|
|New souvenir shirt.|
|We need to talk.|
|Fuzzy dog. (bonus in the right: Lea creeping.)|
And that's all the moddie stuff. More pending next release. They always give Jan 1st to the new girl.
BeForever: Melody Ellison is Perfect! (And LE Mini Dolls)
|Mini LEs for 30 years!|
2016 LE Mini Dolls: This year marks 30 years of American Girl. (Yes, I'm older than AG.) And to start, there's a set of this year only mini dolls. Unlike the 2011 set, all eight are out to start. They each come with a new stand that can place the doll in a walking position, and the outfits are all based on BeForever wear that hasn't been done yet. Well, except Kaya because the only other special historical outfit she has is the Adorned Deerskin Dress, and so she always gets put in that. But the others have "new" clothes and everyone comes with a mini-version of their Journey book. No Caroline--she's retired--and no Melody--she's not out yet. I immediately snatched up Mini-Addy because I can not have enough Mini Addy, and I will probably get Micro Sam next time. The others are a toss up, but I said that in 2011 and ended up with all twelve of them and the stand I keep them in.
Will they do anyone else? Well, maybe. There's also LEs for Felicity, Molly, and Kirsten, but they're in their old meet outfits and updated to the full vinyl body. I might get the mini Kirsten.
|The first thing I picked up in the store. Because Melody Ellison is wonderful.|
Since last year, we have heard that AG was coming out with a new African American BeForever Character. Granted, this was dropped in part to defer the fact that we're getting whiter and barely DoC with the girls of the year, but it was still something I've been excited about since it was announced. There's been outfit leaks, and cover leaks that helped narrow things down to the 1960s; Amazon indicated that her book was debuting Jan 1st, but we were skeptical. And then it was found out that her first book was out on shelves early, and it actually came out Jan 1st.
Melody Ellison is a black girl growing up in 1960s Detroit, and when I told my mom about her my mom pretty much said "it's me it's me it's me!" (My mom is only a few years older than Melody is estimated to be.) Her first book starts in late spring 1963, and carries through to September. I didn't hesitate to grab the copy right as soon as I saw it, and hand one to my buddy so we could have it to read. Her collection and her other books don't come out until summer--something about quality delays. Damn it, I could have had her SOON. There's more than a bit of unfortunate issue to the fact that AG released her first book the first day of another fucking year without Black GotY representation after 16 years of this line, and a very minimally "ethnic" girl. And that will be a complaint later. Oh so it will be.
But as soon as she comes out? I'm picking her up. I will go to whatever store I am closest to and grab her and not put her down. So that is where all my saving is going and any money that gets tossed into my Tip Jar on the side is now officially part of the Bring Melody Home Day of Release Fund.
Be on the lookout. I will get whatever I can.
And now, the sobering part of this post that I cannot let slide.
Normally, I would not spoil any of a book that has only been out for five days at this point. But this is something that isn't a spoiler to me, and it's something I need you all to know and learn and respect, down to the very fiber of my soul and being.
As I said above, Melody's book covers from about June to September 1963. This covers three big events in the Civil Rights of the 1960s. First, it covers The Detroit Walk to Freedom, which was in part a practice run of the later 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where the famous "I Have a Dream" speech was made. The second is the March on Washington.
The third is the one that I want to and will talk about. If you're on AGC, you already saw some of this. So.
I read the first book, over the night of the third after picking it up at the store. And I tore through it. Most of it. And then one event roadblocked me and made me stop. And by roadblocked? I mean I had to put the book down, and I ended up crying myself snotty sick and red-eyed and ugly, and when my Bae saw me he had to hold me for several minutes before I could keep reading. And I was red eyed and snotty through the whole rest of the book.
The third event covered in Melody's first book is the Sixteenth Street Church Bombing. On September 15th, at 10:22 am on a Sunday morning in Birmingham, Alabama, a bomb exploded near the basement of the the oldest black church in Birmingham, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. It was Youth Day. Children were in the basement, preparing for the day. And a dynamite bomb was planted near the basement of the church by members of the KKK--four men who did this in an act of white terrorism against the black community of Alabama and the world in order to evoke fear and terror in people. Terrorism in America for the majority of its history has been white violence against blacks and other people of color, and this was no different.
In the story, Melody and her family are getting ready for church when her mother and elder cousin scream at the news on radio. Her mother cries. And the family finds out, as the nation did--as my mother did, as my father did, as the world did--that four girls were murdered, in the explosion, in church on Sunday morning, in an act of hate towards black people.
Their names are, from left to right:
Carol Denise McNair (Nov. 17, 1951 - Sep. 15, 1963, age 11);
Carole Rosamond Robertson (Apr. 24, 1949 - Sep. 15, 1963, age 14);
Addie Mae Collins (Apr. 18, 1949 - Sep. 15, 1963, age 14); and
Cynthia Dionne Wesley (Apr. 30, 1949 - Sep. 15, 1963, age 14).
It traumatizes Melody. It seals her singing voice away. It makes her too scared to even walk into a church, because she's scared she's not safe there anymore. Melody can't stop thinking about the Sixteenth Street Church bombing. She is half haunted. She wonders if any of the girls was like her cousin and best friend. She wonders about the quiet of lost voices in the homes affected. She wonders what the girls were named, and what they were like.
And the line that fucked me right the hell up?
"[Melody] couldn’t help thinking again of the girls who wouldn’t grow up at all."
And this is where I burst into tears and couldn't read anymore for a time. I lost several moments just crying myself miserable sick, thinking about those four girls. Them and every little black child murdered in the expression of racism through the generations, every little black child that never got to grow up at all.
This sentence, this single sentence, broke me down into tears for several moments. This made my stomach twist and my heart and soul hurt and me weep for several hard, fat moments. Ten good minutes, at least. An AG book hasn’t ever broken me to tears like this, and I've been reading them since the mid 90s.
Because Melody's story is fiction, but this was not. This happened. My mom was twelve and remembers the news while she herself was getting ready for church.
This isn't like Addy eating the worms, or Nellie almost getting sent away from her sisters, or Marta dying on the way through America. Those stories were all in their way upsetting, all that was upsetting. But when you get right to it, those events were fiction. Those were and are stories. They weren’t real. They were characters.
The 16th Street Church bombing was real. Four little girls really were murdered.
I will never, can never forget that a church was really bombed on a Sunday in September 1963 in the name of hate against black people wanting equality in this country. And because of that vile, horrific, hate-filled act of American terrorism, four little girls never got to grow up.
And only three of the perpetrators of that terrorist act ever were convicted for their crimes. Three were imprisoned, and two are dead now. But the fourth escaped any form of criminal justice because the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover's hate-filled racist ass sealed the records and shut down the investigation, and by the time the files were reopened and they started to pursue, he got out of it by fucking DYING.
Please, please remember this when you read Melody's book and look at her collection and see anything about her. Please don't you forget, with every word, that the 16th Street Church Bombing is not just story, not just a part of a tale in a book. That it was real.
You'd better remember that four white men got together and planned to attack a church on a Sunday morning because they knew it would be most packed at that time. That four members of the biggest, oldest terror group in America hated black people so much and felt so justified in being able to terrorize us so much that they set a bomb at a church and it went off and murdered four little girls in the process.
That the bomb blew a seven foot hole in the church. That the explosion was so forceful it blew out all but one stained glass window and was heard for miles and that people in passing-by cars were injured. That four little girls were found "stacked on top of each other, clung together" and that the families had to identify their slain daughters by their shoes--Cynthia Wesley could only be IDed by her clothing and a ring, because the explosion was so intense that she was decapitated and mutilated. That one mother, Maxine McNair, remembers hearing a blast and crying for her baby. That the last sight of her daughter, her baby girl, her only child at the time, was her dead with a fist sized chunk of rock imbedded in her skull. That the pastor walked in to the wreckage and heard 12 year old Sarah Collins moaning, crying for her older sister because the last thing she remembered before everything went dark was seeing the girls tying their dress sashes. That several of their siblings are still alive. That parents outlived their babies. That birthdays, lifetimes, passed without their beloved member of their family.
Remember that those children died.
And when some jackshit comes around on Facebook or forums or anywhere and starts mewling that this story is too "scary" for their child?
Knock the fucking shit out of them. Hell, gimme a book, I'll slap the taste out their mouths.
Scary to you or your child's feelings? Fuck your precious feelings.
Your poor child is disturbed from reading? Boo hoo hoo. Bottle the tears and choke on them.
The sister of one of the slain girls, Sarah Collins, is still alive. She remembers the last thing her sister did before the bomb went off. Her older sister, Junie, remembers that the last talk they ever had was an argument and it haunted her for years. The parents of Denise McNair are still alive--were, as of the 50th anniversary of this horrible event in 2013. Several children who were injured in the bombing are still alive. There are hundreds, thousands of people alive who lived through the trauma of white terrorism that ripped through the American south through the 1960s to try and intimidate blacks into staying subservient and taking a position in America that was less than white people.
So fuck you, and fuck your child's "special sensitivity" and hurt feelings. You'd better let them know how painful the history of America has been and what has been and can be committed in America out of hate and the social power of institutional racism that puts whites above everyone else. Shit, tie it to the slaughter of nine people in Charleston in a church, cause that fucking shit is related. That even one person feeling justified in attacking people in a place of worship is because too many people would rather turn their back to the history of white violence in this country.
Four dead children are not worth your feelings or you sugar coating shit.
Scary? It wasn't too scary for the families to go through. It wasn't too scary for the people injured. It wasn't too scary for Addie Mae's younger sister, twelve-year-old Sarah Collins, who had twenty-one pieces of glass embedded in her face and was permanently blinded in one eye and in the target age of AG girls and is still alive today. It wasn't too scary for four black families to bury their babies, for mothers to lay their children in the ground after losing them to terror and murder and the hateful, evil belief of white supremacy.
Denise McNair was born the same year my mom and dad were. My mom turned twelve that April. My father turned twelve that October.
Denise never turned twelve.
Those four little girls never got to grow up at all.
And to quote Boom:
I know we all have a tendency to make our own characters, and we all have a tendency to make our characters fit our own narrative, whatever it is. I do it too, and I admit it. Or I shift them to moddie, or "Quite Historical," in the case of Ellie. This one is entirely different. This... this has gotten me[.] When I get Melody... there will be no "quite historical." There will be no moddie gear worn. There will be nothing but Melody Ellison, from Motown USA, Detroit. Far be it from me to tell anyone what to do with their own doll... but I implore folks to do the same. Let her name, her time, her place, stand as they are. There are black moddies that can serve a purpose of a name change, place change, whatever change. Use one of them.I can't make anyone do anything. But I can tell you with every fiber of my being why it matters to me to not take Melody's story away from her and that, if you intend to get her, you let her keep her story and her voice. There will be other dolls to take and modernize.
This one matters too much.
Please, don't do it to her. Let her have her story, and let the four girls have theirs in her story.
There's nothing more sobering than ending on that note. I can't and won't take away from that impact.
Just...please. Remember that this really happened. Remember that four little girls never got to grow up. Remember their stories are a story that should never stop being told.
Remember their lives. Remember their names.
Remember that four little girls never got to grow up.
|Denise McNair. Holding a doll like little girls did and do today. |
Who never got to grow up.
1 The best thing of 2015? Hamilton. Go listen to Hamilton. Do it. I could and sometimes listen to that soundtrack all day from start to finish. I learned more about the bastard, orphaned founding father without a father in a single playthrough of the soundtrack than I ever did in school. Plus I know now that Daveed Diggs exists in this world and he is a daily reminder that yes, I am in fact at times attracted to men.
2 Comes before New Year's Eve and is not as intriguing.
3 A reminder here in the footnotes. Dolls of Color are not just Black, no matter what the people on Facebook and other terrible sites will say before they puke that their baby doesn't even SEE color moments before they screech that there's not been a blonde and blue doll for GotY like their child anyways. Dolls of Color are Black, Native, South Asian, Polynesian, East Asian, Southeast Asian, etc.--anyone that is not White and does not ID as white.
4 Not to mention these are precious funds waiting til this summer. Continue on.
5 Should I reopen my doll hospital? I could. I know restringing, rewigging, freckling, makeup restoration/brightening, Neck string replacement--had to do it to my Addy--and small seam repair, and plan to teach my self eyeball removal and eye swapping.
6 Didn't stick. Bitch.
7 Things I will not be getting over, thank you very much.
8 I will not even remotely think this is nothing big. I almost drowned as a toddler and that made me scared to have water over my face as a child; the moment water went up my nose I lost it. I don't even like it too much to this day.
10 It is not pronounced "buh-he-uh" or "Bah-eey" or any of that. It's bah-ee-ah. Don't fuck this up like people fuck up Josefina.