Barbie has done it all — from astronaut and doctor to beach babe, fast food worker and, of course, fashion icon. She also has a hugely popular YouTube channel with more than 9.7 million subscribers, and on that platform she doesn’t shy away from tough topics. Case in point: Barbie’s latest vlog discusses white privilege, racism, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the video, Barbie and her African American bestie, Nikki, talk about issues that are often uncomfortable for a lot of people.
“There is a huge movement going on,” Barbie says at the beginning of the three-minute clip, alluding to Black Lives Matter. “Millions of people across the world are standing up to fight against racism, and they’re doing this because too often and for such a long time, people have been treated unfairly, and in some cases even hurt by others, because of the color of their skin.”
“It’s a tough conversation, but I’m glad we’re having it,” Nikki chimes in. “People might think that my life looks fine, but the truth is, I and so many other black people have to deal with racism all the time. It’s really hurtful and it can be scary and sad and I wanted to share some stories about that today.”
Scroll to the bottom to watch the video, or read on to see the significance of Nikki and Barbie’s conversation.
This isn’t a simple, cheery pitch about everyone getting along. In fact, the animators show Barbie and Nikki struggle with discussing, understanding, and processing the complex social and political events surrounding race and white privilege. But the two give it a shot, and they do it in really accessible language that viewers of all ages can understand.
Nikki talks about a beachside sticker-selling contest she and Barbie participated in. But when the two split up, security stopped Nikki — three different times. This stuns Barbie.
“They asked me all these questions, over and over, and they even called my mom,” Nikki says. “The security officers thought I was doing something bad, even though I was doing exactly what you were doing.”
Nikki also tells Barbie she didn’t join the French honor club because of the teacher. After getting a perfect entrance score, the teacher told Nikki she “got lucky” and said he knew Nikki couldn’t speak French that well.
“What?” asks Barbie, stunned once again. “You speak French better than all of us! Why didn’t you just stay in the club and prove him wrong?”
“Because I don’t want to constantly prove and reprove myself,” Nikki explains with a sentiment many people of color understand. “He supported you right from the beginning and he didn’t support me.”
The Big Moment
“Usually when I talk about these things, people make excuses,” Nikki explains. “They say things like, ‘Well, maybe you should have had a permit for selling on the beach.’ But those are just excuses.”
And that’s when Nikki brings it home.
“People did these things because I was black, and they made the wrong assumptions about me,” she says.
And then it’s Barbie’s turn, processing the concept of white privilege.
“And they don’t make those assumptions about white people like me,” Barbie says. “That’s not fair! Because that means that white people get an advantage that they didn’t earn, and black people get a disadvantage that they don’t deserve.”
While there are always haters in the world, the bulk of social media has been supportive of the video. People are applauding Nikki for telling her truth, and for Barbie listening and keeping her mouth shut as her friend speaks. And while one Barbie video won’t totally solve racism, white privilege, or explain the complexities of the Black Lives Matter movement, it can start a discussion among young people.
Check out the full video below, and check out Barbie’s YouTube channel for more honest, cool kid-friendly content.