BLACK DOLLS: special order only

Some days, I think we are living in a new era, in a world that doesn't see color, in a world more and more like the one Martin Luther King dreamt about.

And some days, I remember that we're not.

There were a myriad of reminders about this for me today, most of which I can't really disclose on my blog. Let me just say this: in therapy, the filter comes off. And some people say stuff to me having no idea that I have an African American son. (or that I would be completely offended even if I didn't). It's all cool until one of them wants to date your daughter. Nuff said.

Even though it's complete ignorance, that stuff sinks my heart a little.

After work I made a Target run, because I wanted to grab a few stocking stuffers for the kids. I thought it would be cute to get them some High School Musical dolls that they could play with on our plane ride.

One of the things I LOVE LOVE LOVE about High School Musical is the racial diversity of the cast. So it was a little surprising to find that Target was only carrying dolls of the white members of the cast. Where was Chad? Where was Taylor? Not at my local Target. There were at least 20 versions of Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, her brother, and the random White girl who plays piano. Rows and rows of these kids, but no representation of the African American cast members.


Now, it would tempting, and maybe even reassuring, to think that a bunch of race-conscious parents had swept up the minority dolls already. But given the fact that there are very few African Americans living in Orange County, somehow I doubt that.

Which leads me to conclude that Target just didn't order them, because they figured they wouldn't sell. The same way last time I visited Pottery Barn at South Coast Plaza, the blonde-haired Harrington Family (Caucasian) was full-price and almost sold old, while the nearly idenitical but ethnic Thompson Family was drastically on clearance. Hmmm . . .

So this Christmas, I ask you: Are there dolls under your tree? Are any of them representing a minority race? What message does it send to our children when minority dolls are cast aside, or not even available at the store? Or when parents show racial preference in their toy selection? Something to think about as we all strive to move towards racial acceptance.


  1. Hi there!
    Thanks for your comment. I'm so glad you said "hello"! Your family is gorgeous, of course :). And this post... one more thing that makes me feel a little like barfing. I think society (that would mean: all of us) quietly promote racism every day through what's in out stores, our immediate perceptions, etc... until we start noticing, like you do (and every minority who has ever lived in this country), nothing will change.
    love your blog!

  2. Hey,

    My solution is to buy the dolls when I see them to let them know there is a demand for them in our area. I don't see it as "racism" as much as supply and demand.
    The same thing happens at the grocery store. Our local store doesn’t offer much organic or ethnic food, but they will “on a trial basis” if you request it. (Goya, what’s that?) When I see it I make a point of stocking up so that they know there’s a demand for it.


  3. Why I love you so much ...

    As I was reading, I immediately thought, "Ohhhh, I've gotta get the clip from the office and leave it in my comment!" Then BOOM! There it was.

    Marry me.

    A friend and I were moaning the other day about how even the various ethnic dolls are just the white dolls with dark hair and dark skin. No wide noses. No kinky hair. No braids. Just Barbie - but black.

    When we lived in the Dallas area, I found out very quickly where I had to shop (areas with larger amounts of diversity). Out here in rural Oklahoma ... I'll give you three guesses.

  4. Yes, I like to do the same as Jennifer and snap them up as soon as I see them. I would acctually say that "white" dolls are the minority in our house and have been since my oldest was born.

    You would not believe the excitement on our girls faces when (my husband just visited them in Haiti for Christmas) they unwrapped a doll with brown skin (all I notice at the O is little white baby dolls/Barbies). They were over joyed. Our son, who opened various little odds and ends started hollering when he opened up a little brown skinned figurine and played with it constantly.

    You will find next to nothing in mainstream toy stores. I had to seek out smaller alternative toy stores. Corelle dolls are awesome (although their website shows very little diversity) and Groovy Girls are great as well.

    It is my absolute pet peeve though, the white wash that exists in toy stores.

  5. Yes there is! It has become a tradition for Santa to bring my girls an American Girl bitty baby on their second Christmas. This being Camden's, I randomly chose the "asian" baby, thinking it would be silly to have 2 of the exact same doll in the house (Chloe has the light-skinned, blue-eyed). A good way to teach acceptance very early on. American girl does a great job representing many ethnicities, and we love them (my mom still has mine from childhood)!

  6. I just had to write on this one. First of all, about clients. I saw a client the other day who
    (I am going to say this carefully) expressed her hatred for the African American race also not knowing that my husband is an intelligent, strong black man. That was hard for me! I was sickened to be honest.

    Onto the dolls, as crazy as it is...when I was little I only wanted black dolls for some reason and when asked why by my mom I said "Because they are prettier" A sign of things to come..I think so. I am so grateful to my midwestern (white bread world) mama saying to me that whomever I loved was alright with her even if he was green! :) It was nice to be able to act on my own attractions without feeling like it was wrong.

    I understood all too well how you felt when I read this post. It's good to bring awareness to people like this. Merry Christmas to the entire Howerton fam! :) We love you!


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