When she was growing up, it was rare for Deanna Singh to see characters in books, television, or film that looked like her.
Now that she’s an adult, she aims to change the way people think about diversity and inclusion in our society. As a motivational speaker, author, and co-owner of a company called Uplifting Impact, Deanna works with companies to improve workplace diversity and inclusion.
Deanna believes it’s important for people to see positive representations of themselves in media. As she worked with adults in the workplace, she heard a lot of employees say that they don’t know how to talk about these topics with their children. Deanna decided to expand her work to include kids in these important discussions, holding online sessions starting in summer 2020.
“First we started off with a couple hundred people,” Deanna said. “By the end of the summer, we talked to 10 thousand people. One of the people on the call happened to be somebody from the American Girl team. They reached out after going through that session with us.”
American Girl thought her message of representation perfectly aligned with their brand’s dedication to diversity and inclusion. The company has featured a wide range of dolls with different skin tones, hair textures, eye colors, and abilities for over 30 years. They’re always trying to feature diverse voices in their books and dolls, so they asked Deanna to write a book for them about race and inclusion.
“They were saying, look, we want to use our platform to raise the conversation about why it’s important to have diversity in our literature,” she said. “It’s important to have diversity in our toys.”
Deanna published “A Smart Girl’s Guide: Race and Inclusion” in June 2021. The book is geared towards kids aged 4 through 8, and it’s designed to open conversations about racism, anti-racism, and inclusion. She’s also working with American Girl on their “World By Us” line of diverse dolls.
“One is a mixed-race girl, she’s black and white, one is an African American girl, and one is a Latin X girl,” she said. One of the first dolls she worked on is called Makena.
“It is a beautiful African American doll who just really reflects this idea [that] it’s important for us to not only listen to our children, but make sure they have the opportunity to use their voice,” said Deanna. “And one of the things I think is so powerful about it is I remember what it felt like to be a little girl and never see anything like that.”
Deanna is trying to provide kids with the diversity and inclusion that she didn’t have as a child.
“This is for the 10-year-old Deanna,” she joked.
Her next book, “Actions Speak Louder” further explores representation and inclusion in the workplace.
Deanna is working every day to make the world more accepting of our unique differences! Changing the world is slow, yet crucial work. We wish her all the best as she continues to increase representation in media for generations to come.
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