the post-script to the post-racial barbie

I am loving the conversation in the comments after last night's post.  Race is always a sticky topic, and I really appreciate the dialogue.

I do feel like I need to clarify: I do not think American Girl dolls are racist.  I think it is completely normal for kids to want a doll that looks just like them, and fine if we indulge that wish.  (For $90 plus tax, though, maybe someone can point me to a cheaper brand when India wants a twin doll?)  I'm just saying . . . we should all be aware of that immature yet natural tendency children (and some adults) have to prefer sameness.  In so many areas, our children need our guidance to grow beyond certain tendencies (selfishness, impulsiveness, etc). Play is such a unique teaching opportunity.  So sure, we buy our kids the dolls that represent them.  But we can also be using that play as a chance to teach that friends do not have to look the same . . . that we should choose our friends based on shared values and interests, and not based on who looks just like us.

I am always struck by the way some people squirm in conversations about race.  One commenter in particular, who comes away angry after reading my posts on race (and also suggests maybe I am making it up.)  I gotta tell you, I've heard that one before - perhaps not quite so blatantly.  But I think it is really hard for a lot of people to accept that there is still a lot of racial tension in our country, and I think it is easier to stick our heads in the sand and assume people are being too sensitive, or going around looking for it, or whatever.  My post about dolls yesterday was about racial bias - not racism per se, and more of an attempt to dig at the idea of America being "post-racial" than an actual call to arms.  But sometimes my kids have experienced overt racism, too.  Sometimes from cruel kids. Sometimes from adults. It sucks.  But it sucks even more to talk about those experiences and then have people diminish or deny that those things take place.  And this commenter, as offensive as she was, represents an all-too-frequent unwillingness to look at life from another person's perspective.  For me, it's all the more motivation to keep talking about it.



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