A Tennessee first-grader proved that anyone can make a difference and inspire change, no matter how old they are.
Earlier last month, seven-year-old Morgan Bugg of Brentwood, TN was using educational app Freckle, a gaming platform that allows students a chance to win coins while completing reading and math enrichment activities. During virtual class, she noticed its online store didn’t have any hairstyle options for Black girls like her to style her avatar.
According to Bugg, she told the Tennessean that “I felt kind of sad and jealous that there wasn’t any girl hair for me.”
Kelley Anne Joyner — Bugg’s teacher at Edmondson Elementary School — then noticed how visibly frustrated Bugg was and pulled her into a virtual breakout room to chat one-on-one.
“She had some heartfelt tears,” Joyner said to the Tennessean. “She then said that it’s not fair that they have one Black boy hair, but they don’t have any Black girl hair.”
In an effort to find a solution to her problem, Bugg suggested to her teacher that the app should add Black girl hair options and proceeded to draw exactly what that looks like for the company to see examples.
The Tennessean reports that Joyner then sent off Bugg’s illustrations to Freckle’s support team with a message requesting more Black girl hair options. A month later, the two finally got a response in which Freckle decided to not only add Black girl hairstyles to the app, but did so based off of Bugg’s drawings.
According to the outlet, Renaissance — the creator of Freckle’s app — says that the “Freckle design team went to work right away” after receiving Bugg and her teacher’s request.
“Our mission at Renaissance is to accelerate learning for all children and adults of all ability levels and ethnic and social backgrounds, worldwide,” the company said in an email to the Tennessean. “To that end, Renaissance is committed to producing content that is diverse, inclusive, and equitable for all learners.”
Bugg’s mother, Dr. Maya Bugg, told the news outlet how proud she is of her daughter and teacher for standing up for what’s right.
“Morgan was upset and many teachers would have just kind of written it off,” she says. “I think when Morgan gets older, she might better realize the impact and the gravitas of what she and Ms. Joyner have done.”
She also adds, “You need to listen to people when they’re speaking up about how they’re feeling. You need to make sure that all students feel welcomed, and it seems like something small, but if children are using a program and it’s mandatory to use that program, they should be able to see themselves represented.”
Following the new changes to Freckle’s app, Bugg is now able to use her own avatar on the platform as she proudly wears a cute afro.
Bugg is a model example that when one person uses their voice to speak up, they can send a message that representation matters in order to create change.