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The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers came out when I was three and it was unlike anything I had seen before. And not just in that they had cool ninja moves either. I was infatuated with the Yellow Ranger. To my younger self, she looked just like me! We both had brown skin, brown eyes, and dark brown hair so clearly we were exactly the same.
Now I wasn’t a super informed young child when it came to race, I just got excited when I looked like a character in terms more than just both being brunettes. Up until the Power Rangers, I basically only really thought I looked like Princess Jasmine. And I truly loved Princess Jasmine. But I should also probably mention that I am Mexican-American, not Middle-Eastern or Asian-American. As a child though I probably couldn’t tell you the difference, okay I definitely couldn’t tell you the difference. To me we were all brown sisters.
As much as I loved being able to play princesses and having one I could identify with, when the Power Rangers came out, that brought with it a whole new level of make believe. I could be with a group of friends and we could all play Power Rangers together, pretending to do our best imitations of ninja kicks and fantastical arm movements, while yelling “Hi-yah”. And while all the other little girls wanted to be the Pink Ranger, I was proud to be the first to claim myself as the Yellow Ranger, as I was always the only little brown girl.
The Power Rangers has been a staple in childhood programming ever since it’s debut and has gone through many iterations. However, I do believe this new movie is due to the increasing desire from Millennials wanting to relive their childhood, and I’m not going to lie, 23 years after being introduced to the Yellow Ranger, I’m stoked. The new movie really diversified its cast and so this new Yellow Ranger is actually Mexican-American, so I guess it has come full circle for me. And even though she’s not Asian-American, I hope for the young ones, just seeing a brown-girl Ranger is as cool for them as it was for me.
Children’s programming started getting with the program to diversify their casts when I was still young and I did find other characters to be enthralled with, but the Yellow Ranger will always be one of my first and definitely the most badass. Luckily, these days if a child wants to see a character that looks like them, it’s not as hard of a find. I am still waiting for a Latinx princess though.