Thursday, October 20, 2011

Black Girl Wants White Doll: What Would You Do?

I saw this posted by the SistahChick on Facebook and thought it was interesting.

Watch video HERE (short video) and HERE (full video, also shows a white girl wanting a black doll). Read full story HERE.


via ABC News:

A landmark study from the 1940s, conducted by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark, showed that 63 percent of African-American children surveyed preferred playing with white dolls over black dolls. They displayed a poignant disconnect from dolls of their own skin color and assigned negative connotations to the darker-skinned dolls. It was a stark reflection of the times, and was later used to support desegregation inBrown v. Board of Education, helping spur the changes of the last fifty years.

Fast forward to 2011, when forced segregation is but a distant memory and our biracial president challenges old notions of racial identity. What happens when an African-American child chooses a white doll and her caretaker admonishes her, refusing to allow her to play with it and insisting she play with one that is African-American? What if the situation is reversed and a Caucasian child is forbidden from playing with an African-American doll? Will anyone intervene?


  1. That was a great watch. I love the last man's message about diversity . I'm thinking about your natural hair dolls, do you think that in the same way, it would diversify A's collection of dolls if she had some that had straight hair, loose curls, etc? Food for thought :)

  2. @Precious, my daughter has all kinds of dolls. Indian, spanish, black, white, etc. Since we collect them, she has more white than black but she plays with all of them. She currently likes the one with the big afro the best (for now anyway). As for the natural dolls, I have given them all different hair styles. Braids, puffs, curls, a looser curl that looks like a twist out, etc. :)

  3. i had every color of dolls growing up. it never bother me wish i could show my 20 somethings dolls i kept. But parents have to teach kids about race and different hair types

  4. i never can understand the big deal about this. growing up i was allowed to play with any doll i wanted. my mom always bought me all different kinds. the same goes for my daughter now. she's been adding 1 white doll in more with her brown ones because her best friend emily has white skin like her doll.

    i never make a big deal about the dolls she chooses. it's a doll, it doesn't mean she's going to feel less beautiful about herself and it doesn't mean she doesn't like the way she is.

    interesting post =)

  5. I thought this was interesting when I read this a while back, so I conducted my own little test with my girls. They both chose the dolls that looked most like them as their favorite. But I do like them to have dolls of all colors. Well, in theory--but my girls aren't fond of dolls at all. I wish they were, it would give me an excuse to buy one of your natural hair dolls!

  6. Serenity likes all kinds. Since Tangled was released though she talked about having straight hair, straight BLOND hair. "I want hair that grows DOWN Mommy - not OUT". It's hard to explain to her that it will go down - but because it curls it just takes longer. I think she understands now, and it wasn't as if she didn't like her hair - she just wanted something new, you know? But she does like and have all kinds dolls - black, brown, white. The only doll that we don't have is an Asian doll - and I plan to get her one soon. I try not to worry about it when she preferred the white, blond doll - but it's hard because I don't want her to think she's lacking in anyway. People's definition of beautiful is changing and I'm very thankful of that. The struggle that people of color went through (and are still going through) has made it easier for my child to feel accepted - well actually it's not really like that at all, more that it's not even an issue (at least not right now it's not). I feel so grateful because I would hate for Serenity to be subjected to prejudice because the color of her skin. Such a silly thing to hold against anybody - but especially a child!

  7. It saddens me that this question even comes up. I forget that sometimes everyone isn't beyond this kind of thing. Come on people, diversity is good. My daughter has dolls of different races, it gives us an opportunity to talk about how everyone is different and different can be good. We are all beautiful for different reasons. We are all the same in many ways too. We need to accept these facts and be happy with life and all the different kinds of beautiful diversity around us.

  8. I'm Black, grew up having all white dolls. My first colored doll was an Asian doll Mattels' Miko and that's because there wasn't any black dolls at the toy store. Finally near the end of my doll days I got Teresa, which was light carmel colored doll and if I'm not mistaken she is supposed to be Hispanic. either way never had a black doll even gifted white dolls. Fast forward now, I have two girls. I always always buy them black dolls. I think it is important for the children to have dolls that look like them especially-especially if they are in a minority group. They need to see my bought these dolls because they are beautiful like me.
    It does do something to a child psyche and I'll admit it if no one else does, I wanted straight long flowing hair like my dolls, i took the shirts and wrapped them on my head and pretended to have the hair. Now, was it because of my dolls, I can't say but there are influences, self appreciation ect. it begins at home.

    Now, my daughters have been gifted white dolls and I have no problem with that (weird how I never seen the opposite at a white friends child birthday party-but go figure!), they play with them just the same. They currently have four white dolls and one asian (grandma)amongst the countless black dolls. But as I stated my husband and I only purchase black dolls for our girls. We also love buying books featuring Black characters.

    I get the segment, it's thought provoking and yes if a child is really adamant about one doll-get it for her. But I believe the parent have to think is this because of this certain doll or is this a pattern... hmmm

  9. My daughter has all kind of dolls. We never forced her to get one of the other. She did get black dolls. It didn't matter to us as long as she was happy.

  10. I have both mixed black/white and white daughters. They have all types of dolls. I think it's important for a child to have dolls that look like them but I also think it's important for a child to have diverse dolls. Why shouldn't their doll playground look alot like their own playground kinda thing.

  11. It's very fascinating as a foreigner, to watch from afar (and up close) the constant attempts in America to decay African-Americans and their strong cultural identity. So, in the US, they're going to now start actually PRESSURING African-Americans to get "different dolls" for their children, all in the name of diversity??

    The sad thing is that (judging by these comments), the current generation of parents are so insecure, that this attempt to decay their strong culture, pride, and sense of identity with pressure to "diversify their children's dolls" actually works.

    You have nothing to prove to anyone. My child plays with dolls that look like her. I would NEVER ask her to play mother to a doll that didn't represent who and what she is.

    We know a lot about African-American traditional culture here; it's highly admired and respected here (not the assimilated culture I'm seeing in this post, but the traditional culture). I know that there was a time that you could not pressure or guilt/chide them into bestowing white dolls on their children in the name of diversity.

    It seems that strong culture is changing now. It's very sad and interesting to watch, all at once.

    The reasons people choose to give their children dolls by color vary. My reasons vary from someone African-American because my needs and concerns are different. So while it's often a "racism" issue for whites and our culture, it's a "self-esteem" and "self-love" and self-reinforcement issue for blacks. And for this reason, you should feel ashamed of yourself for not allowing yourself and your own image (and your child's image) to not be consistently and properly represented in their dolls, wall art, whatever.

    Others can afford to not do that because we don't have the same esteem issues as Blacks (due to our pretty awful history). We don't have the same lack of representation in the world around us that Black Americans face. We don't have the same pressure to exercise self-contempt that Blacks have, much of it placed upon themselves by their own peers.

    So why in the WORLD would you imagine that you have the same luxury as others to give your child "diverse" dolls. This is one of the most foolish topics I've read in a long time. Disappointing

  12. Wow, after that last comment I would stop allowing anonymous comments altogether.

    Anonymous, where is "here"???? What is the "traditional" black culture as opposed to "assimilated" black culture? Where/when/how did you get your information on the difference if you are writing from another location/country??

  13. "Anonymous" ... it stands to reason that a child with only white dolls could become culturally "boxed-in," correct? Doesn't the same stand for a child with only black dolls? Just because others choose to veil their child's eyes in an ethnocentric worldview (central to white or central to black - it doesn't matter) doesn't mean that the rest of us have to.

    You should be ashamed of yourself, for assuming that your fellow humans are 100% subject and slave to "self-esteem issues." Doing so reveals you to be an arrogant, close-minded individual who has no business in cultural debate.


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