|The Birth of a Bee|
From the moment we found out we were expecting, my husband Archyn Orijin (Founder/Designer of Orijin Culture) and I, Mrs Orijin, begun the overly exciting new parent-to-be talks; how we did we want to raise her? We promised to expose her to a world of diverse cultures so that she becomes a global citizen, but yet never forgetting her deep rooted African culture; Yes a culture we were both raised in (Cape Verde and Ghana) and unapologetically proud of.
| Nurturing and Culturing Two Bees|
You might think we had everything in check right? I mean this girl had a passport full of stamps as we lived between Africa and the US with Esi, while exploring the world together and submerging her in different cultures and environments; She ate all kinds of food, picked up dances here and there, knew how to say hello in various languages while we continued to mold her not knowing we were molding another baby. Then Africa was born. With our daughters two years apart and now feeling like a pro in parenthood, we continued adding cultural values and love for their own identity through their cute african dresses tailored for them ( mom credit 😉), children’s books, African dances, African food for them to embrace their own as we knew that world will not do it for us.
|Losing Identity to a System|
Then came the time where Esi got accepted into a Private school that would give her the best passport in life a parent can ever want for their child, the best education. She loved the school. The first day of school of course was emotional, I dubbed few tears, but we will save that for another talk. Within the first couple of weeks of attending school, we noticed Esi’s taste in television shows, dolls (preference changed to Caucasian dolls) and toys had been altered. This was not something that was done intentionally by any one person, but just a result of lack of diversity in her school. We knew she was receiving the best academic education, but at what expense?
|Transparency with the School|
So like any mom would do, I panicked and started scrambling for solutions. I spoke to the head of her school, communicated with her teachers of my concerns and enrolled her in extracurricular activities where the participants came from diverse backgrounds. Esi’s school was very understanding and supportive with my efforts and concerns, but I felt it wasn’t doing enough as her mother.
Everything we had worked on for four good years was taken away in just weeks. The world we tried to create to encourage her to love her beautiful African features, her rich culture and all that made her Esi, was quickly deteriorating.
|The Beginning of the Orijin Bees|
There comes a time you must face reality and not compromise with a system not built for us but rather confront it to find a solution for ourselves.
Through this experience, I couldn’t stop thinking of other children and their parents facing this same dilemma. What about the children that didn’t have the opportunity to be exposed to diversity outside of school? So I vented to my husband…a lot! A big pain point was my frustration in the toy aisle at the stores. Esi went from asking for one of the few ethnic dolls on the shelf to always requesting the Caucasion doll. In true husband form, Mr. Orijin thought of a solution to this issue. He suggested I consider making the dolls that I wished to see in the toy aisles.
And so the Orijin Bees Fairytale begins. Ethnic dolls that look like us, are diverse like us, dress like us and can be found all around us. Dolls that come in different complexions and hair textures just like our children. Dolls that together promote the importance of diversity and unity. But this will not happen without us continuing to build a community together.
I believe that the Most High has put all of us here for a purpose. We all touch each others lives in different ways and I hope with Orijin Bees, we add positively to our community. The love of a mother is a gift. Mothers come in all forms, but with the same foundation, love. That love extends beyond our own children. That love makes us feel responsible for each others children. That’s the love that Orijin Bees is built on and with this love we will grow together.
I hope these dolls are seen not as objects, but as a subject of pride, discussion, re-education, reunification, celebration of our identity, embracing our roots and heritage, while developing the next generation to be well aware that they are Kings and Queens.