Yelitsa Jean-Charles is the founder and creative director of Healthy Roots Dolls, the first line of natural hair dolls.

Healthy Roots’ mission is “to combat internalized racism and colorism by getting to the root of the problem: diversity and knowledge.”

The ESSENCE Ultimate Natural Hair Dictionary

Yelitsa shares a personal account of the dolls she preferred growing up and what led her to address diversity and representation in children’s media. “In 2014 alone, there were 5,000 books made,” she explains. “But only 8% were about children of color. But over 50% of children in the U.S. are of color. Those numbers just don’t add up. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Yelitsa believes that toys are a great way to solve this problem.

“When you’re ignored by the mainstream media, you have to become a problem solver, become an innovator and you have to be smart about it… I look forward to a future where more young women rise to the occasion through innovative solutions and a little bit of Black girl magic, and my hope is that all of you here will support the work that I and other young women are doing because we need your help to change the world.”

The 15 Best Sunglasses and Natural Hair Pairings

Watch her TED Talk above.


Loading the player...