On New Year’s Day, we are heading out to brunch, and Kavya’s sitting on the stairs, her head in her hands. Crying. I ask her what happened. In most cases, we verbally abuse the pain-inflicting object, followed immediately by a good stomping, and that sorts things out. But this time is different. In-between muted, heaving sobs, she says something that I hadn’t expected for at least a few more years: “I want yellow hair. Like Rapunzel.” She points to the large, manga-eyed, blonde princess with tiny toothpick-wrists, smiling on her t-shirt.
It’s one of those parenting moments where time stands still. I fight the urge to say, “Rapunzel’s hair is stupid. She can go to hell.”
My wife, Sona, sits on the stairs with Kavya and tries to comfort her. Sona’s parents don’t really understand the heaviness of what Kavya is saying, and view it as just a random tantrum.
Instead of berating Rapunzel for her physical appearance, I ask Kavya if she knows who my favourite princess is. She looks up at me. “Who?”
“Princess Kavya.” I say, touching her nose. She starts crying even louder. After a bit, she says, “Why do you like Princess Kavya?”"
Navdeep Singh Dhillon argues that, all too often in books, movies, and TV shows for children, non-white characters are only defined by their “otherness.”