Ain’t I a Princess? Including Black Women and Girls in Fantasy and Play

It is only fitting that Netflix chose Juneteenth to debut the Shondaland-produced documentary film, Black Barbie. The film tells the story of Black women who worked at Mattel and gave us the titular doll, showcasing the joy of freedom through play. And yet, while the film shows that today’s Black children may no longer have feelings of being “ugly” or “bad,” as demonstrated during Clark’s doll experiment, they clearly understood Black Barbie wasn’t the “real Barbie,” wasn’t the “hero” of her own story. 

To that end, are we needing to ask a similar question about other fantasies: “Ain’t I a princess?”

It is not enough for Black women and girls to enter fantasy and play as “corrective” heroes. While we are as indebted to the Black women imagineers who worked on the new Disney ride, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, as we are to the Black women at Mattel for giving us Black Barbie, we are equally in need of imaginations that transcend our limited realities and revel in our most whimsical dreams.

Mexico’s Next President Is the Country’s First Woman, First Jewish President—And a Feminist

Mexico just elected its first woman and first Jewish president: former Mexico City Governor Claudia Sheinbaum.

She bested her opponent, Xóchitl Gálvez, winning between 58.3 percent and 60.7 percent of the vote, according to the National Electoral Institute. Gálvez had between 26.6 percent and 28.6 percent.

Thanks to three decades of political innovation in Mexico, Sheinbaum, Gálvez and hundreds of other women received the chance to run for and serve in office.

Arizona’s 1864 Abortion Law Was Made in a Women’s Rights Desert. Here’s What Life Was Like Then.

In 1864, Arizona—which was an official territory of the United States—was a vast desert. Women in Arizona could not vote, serve on juries or exercise full control over property in a marriage. They had no direct say in laws governing their bodies. Hispanic and African American women had even fewer rights than white women.

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on April 9, 2024, that a 160-year-old abortion ban passed during this territorial period will go into effect. Since that ruling, the Arizona legislature has been grappling with how to handle the near-total ban. Even if the ban is fully repealed, it could still take temporary effect this summer.

As someone who teaches history in Arizona and researches slavery, I think it is useful to understand what life was like in Arizona when this abortion ban was in force.

April 2024 Reads for the Rest of Us

Each month, we provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

Here are 25 fantastic books releasing this month that we recommend you dig into. There are stunning debuts, masterful historical fiction, kaleidoscopic short stories, thoughtful manifestas, moving memoirs, groundbreaking nonfiction, and so much more.

In Hawai‘i, Where Traditional Midwives Can’t Practice

Two days after Alia Louise Stenback survived the Aug. 8 wildfire in Lāhainā, Maui—the deadliest wildfire the United States has seen in over 100 years—she parked herself at a medical tent. One month later, with no ambulances around to provide transport to a hospital, her grandson was born. With a donated birthing kit and the support of traditional midwives, Stenback “caught [her] grandson.”

Stenback grants herself “outlaw” status because she provided care during labor without a midwifery license in assumed violation of Hawaii’s HRS §457J, otherwise known as the Midwifery Restriction Law. Originally passed in the name of maternal and infant safety, the law is the subject of impassioned protests, new legislative proposals and a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.

‘Riding Barbie’s Coattails’: Race, Gender and Inclusivity at the 2024 Oscars

It’s time to place more women of color at the center of our film narratives—and, as Cord Jefferson implored in his acceptance speech, it’s time for the cultural gatekeepers to fund and support more opportunities for diverse stories and talents.

I congratulate all Oscar winners this year, but it’s much too soon to pat Academy members on the back for doing the bare minimum of race and gender inclusivity.