Xavier Alumnae Celebrate Cultural Value of Disney’s ‘Doc McStuffins’
In March, the Disney Channel debuted a new animated series ‘Doc McStuffins,’ a look into the life and adventures of a six-year-old African-American girl with dreams of becoming a physician and the magic to heal sick and injured toys. The show was an instant success, and was renewed for a second season earlier this month.
But the show’s magic extends far beyond making toys feel all better. For several female physicians with alumnae ties to Xavier University of Louisiana, the show represents a cultural shift in the way society acknowledges black women in the medical industry – a shift that is quickly gaining national attention.
Dr. Myiesha Taylor began watching ‘Doc McStuffins’ with her five-year-old daughter Hana, and soon realized that the character was a spot-on characterization of her ambitions of becoming a doctor as a child growing up in Long Beach, CA. A daughter in a long line of educated nurses, Taylor says the show served as a confirmation of the motivation given to her by her mother to become a doctor.
She started the ‘We Are Doc McStuffins’ campaign on Facebook as a way to thank Disney for supporting a positive representation of black children.
“We appreciate the fact that this child is the leading child, not part of a diverse cast, but a leading character on the show. She’s brown. She’s an intellectual professional. She’s not an ‘American Idol’ winner, she’s us; and we just wanted to say thanks in the hopes that the show would make it and that our children would be able to watch the same kind of show.”
With the thank you collage featuring more than 130 black female physicians, the movement has grown beyond thanks and into a full display of an unheralded group of medical professionals.
“I still have people today that call me “Mrs. Taylor,” says Dr. Taylor, who heads a community physicians group in Fort Worth. “It doesn’t resonate with so many people that a black woman could be your physician.”
She says she was attracted to Xavier because it was a hub of success for African-Americans, and a training ground free of prejudice.
“There was no thought about whether they were choosing you or not choosing you based on color. You don’t feel pitied or congratulated because of your race, but that they gave accolades based on your merit and ability,” Dr. Taylor says.
Dr. Karla Vital, Owner of Vital Health and Wellness Center in Houston, shares the sentiment about Xavier’s preparation of its students.
“During my time at Xavier I developed strong bonds with students across the country,” says Dr. Vital. The environment was very nurturing, and the University kept the primary focus on setting and achieving short and long-term goals. There were multiple opportunities for mentorship and involvement in medical societies. Xavier holds a special place in my heart since I also met my husband in the library there. We were able to maintain a long-distance relationship after graduation, since we learned to focus on the diligence needed to achieve our long-term goals.”
“The Disney ‘Doc McStuffins’ show provides such a breath of fresh air. When Dr. Myiesha Taylor was gracious enough to include me in the collage that she created, it put a unified face to the common vision of finally achieving your dreams. It was very refreshing to know that this image was now mainstream and would encourage children to aim higher and work harder. Disney’s show is very progressive and encouraging, since there will always be a greater number of negative images displayed on the television screen. If children are exposed to math and science at an earlier age, it will be viewed as less daunting and more desirable.”
The doctors’ awareness campaign has reached women across the United State and has attracted the attention of national press. With the news that XULA again leads the nation in the production of African-Americans who practice medicine, this campaign doesn’t show any signs of slowing down in the near future.