It’s Barbie, Bitch. You can join the wave. –Nicki Minaj in Young Money’s “Roger That”
I mean, isn’t it about damn time?
Last year, my sister and her husband volunteered to buy a Christmas gift for a child at a local New Jersey school. The little girl drew a picture of what she wanted: A black baby doll with blue eyes and blonde hair. Yea, right. Still, my sister searched New Jersey and New York city and couldn’t find a black doll that was of quality –that’s if she could even find one at all.
Now, my sister might have been asking me because maybe I could help her out, being the darkest child in my family. But I didn’t like baby dolls so I was no help. The only dolls I liked were Barbie dolls. Personally, I didn’t like the black Barbie. I thought she was… too black. Now, I’m not sure if she actually was or if I was so affected by society that I preferred the lighter Barbies. I don’t quite remember. Theresa was the “medium” Barbie and Christie was the darkest one and I thought she was… (if I call her “crispy” would that be really wrong? Yea, you’re right) not representative of me.
There’s a group out of Atlanta called The Black Dolls
whose aim is to empower young black females by being positive roll models in their communities. Their movement, The Black Doll Affair, was launched in response to the documentary, “A Girl Like Me,” by Kiri Davis
in which the filmmaker recreated and recorded the 1940s doll experiments lead by Kenneth and Mamie Clark that showed that Black children preferred white dolls over black dolls
. The results from their findings were used in the Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation case.
(View Davis’ “A Girl Like Me” here.)
It’s actually really, really sad & eye opening. The saddest part has to be when the kids have to point out the doll that is “bad” and then the doll that looks like them… and they pick the same doll.
As a black woman, I’ve always wondered, What color doll will daughter play with? Do I choose? Do I let her choose? Do I ban white Barbies completely? What if she like the white one better? Wat do I say? What do I do? I really don’t know… yet. I figure I’ll start her with Black dolls early so that there is no other option. If there’s one thing I learned from Freud in Psych 101, it’s how to train children.
|The Sleazy Barbie @ Target
But then there are other issues that come about. “Barbie” is actually the name of the white doll while all the others have to take on different names. I also find it partially offensive that in the descriptions on Walmart.com, they have to put “AFRICAN AMERICAN” right out so that consumers aren’t confused. Oh, because we couldn’t tell she was black? See for yourself
. Other black dolls are also highly sexualized. Check out this one Barbie sold at Target that a customer actually complained about: Read article Here.
Earlier this year
NY Daily News published an article about a Walmart in Louisiana selling its black Barbies for cheaper than the white Barbies: read article
|Cheaper Barbies @ Walmart
Now, there are plenty people upset at Nicki Minaj and her “Barbie” movement injecting self-esteem into Black women, but I’ll be the first to say, I really don’t mind. It’s been a long time –if ever– that black women have been so proud to be themselves, loving and accentuating their curves in latex and pleather like it’s their full-time job. On a YouTube.com video called “Twitter Beef”, Nicki explains the Barbie mentality and what it means to her and her fans. She argues that mentally, you have to be a “Bad Bitch” to be a Barbie.
Shit, sign me up.
If Nicki Minaj is what the new Black barbie looks like, I ain’t mad at it. As a matter of fact, Vogue Black (Italian issued, I believe) featured an all-black photo shoot issue celebrating Barbie’s 50th birthday (even though the Black Barbie is only 30). Check the beauty here. My question is: If a White girl were running around calling herself Barbie, would it be a problem? — oh wait… that already happens.
I’m just glad I (and one day my daughters) can finally say, “That Barbie is pretty and she looks just like me.”