What if we saw more BIPOC Princesses and Ballerinas?
Written by Misty Copeland Netflix Jr.
Reading time 3 minutes
Topic suited for 6-10 years
Share this guide
Children are continually exposed to negative representations and deficit language when talking about people of color. Representation matters when creating windows and mirrors for white children to learn about diverse groups of people, experience differences, and see images and storylines that honor the humanity of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.
Before you watch the video below, consider the following:
Ask your child, “what skin color are ballerinas? Why?”. If your child says “white” then push them to think about how ballerinas can come in different skin colors and that you are going to listen to a story from Misty Copeland, the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.
Pause throughout the video to check in with your child about how they are feeling and making sense of the book’s message.
Consider purchasing the physical book to read along with the video.
Tell your child, “today we are going to read a book called “Firebird” by author and ballet dancer, Misty Copeland. We all have dreams and it is important that we work hard and acknowledge the steps of those who have done this before us.”
Misty Copeland Reads “Firebird” | Bookmarks | Netflix Jr
In her debut picture book, Misty Copeland tells the story of a young girl–an every girl–whose confidence is fragile and who is questioning her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached. Misty encourages this young girl’s faith in herself and shows her exactly how, through hard work and dedication, she too can become Firebird.
Lyrical and affecting text paired with bold, striking illustrations that are some of Caldecott Honoree Christopher Myers’s best work, makes Firebird perfect for aspiring ballerinas everywhere.
After watching the read-aloud, consider the following:
Pause the video, ask your child, “what do you notice? How is this different from pictures of ballerinas you have seen in the past?”
Ask your child, “Are all ballerina dancers white people? Are princesses only white women? Are superheroes only white people? Is tennis only for white people?” Create a list of examples of dancers, royalty, superheroes, and sports players who are not white; this will challenge your child’s perspective of roles that are only for white people.
Do an inventory of your child’s toys that have images of humans (such as dolls, action figures, books, favorite TV shows, and even their apps on technology). What do you notice? What images are present? What images are missing? What roles do the children of color play in the books and apps – are they main or supporting characters? What messages does this send to your white child about what they should value?
Great, you’re all signed up!
We’ll send you updates about once a month. See you soon!
SIGN UP FOR UPDATES
Get the latest updates on how to talk to kids about racism, straight to your inbox, about once a month.
Misty Danielle Copeland (born September 10, 1982) is an American ballet dancer for American Ballet Theatre (ABT), one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the United States. On June 30, 2015, Copeland became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in ABT’s 75-year history.
Netflix is the world’s leading streaming entertainment service with 204 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.