Diverse dolls should be a fairly common practice by now but they are not. Actually it’s still such an uncommon practice that I feel awkward writing this post.
My mother approached me when my daughter was born and asked if she could buy my daughter her first baby doll. I agreed, under one condition. I didn’t want the doll to be white. I acknowledge that to some degree that does seem a bit racist but my reasoning was not. You see, we are a completely white family. Even though this is normal it was not normal to me. As a young child my parents were foster parents and so our home was opened up to many children. Rarely were we ever a solid white family even though biologically we always were. I remember my mother being treated differently every time she went to the grocery store with a car full of kids who were not the same color. People treated her with such disrespect and even called her vulgar names in front of us kids. Children should not notice those things but they do. Yes, the years have had great improvement towards families of diversity but the stigma and the looks are still there.
Later on my family moved to Central America, where my siblings and I were the only white kids in the village. We stood out a bit, moving to a new location was scary enough but when others pointed out the fact we looked differently it added to the fear. As a teenager I had a racist teacher who was very open about his feelings towards white people. While he never used the word hate he pointed out on numerous occasions the fact that he had a white kid in his class that year. That didn’t help. My brother had a teacher who treated him differently in first grade and even told my parents that she was unhappy to have a white kid in her class.
Throughout high school my skin color was brought to my attention many times by other kids, my teachers and even my friends. Although I grew to forget that I looked different than those around me it was the ones who spent time with me the most that often brought it up.
Dating was interesting as well, there were times when bets were placed to see who could date me. Times when I was publicly made fun of for dating someone who didn’t look like me. At one point others in my school were walking around saying that I was so white but those I dated were black as night. There were even times when I was told it wasn’t okay for dating someone who was my color because suddenly I was racist.
The Power Of Diverse Dolls
Let’s flash forward a few years. My family moved back up to the United States of America. I married a white man, we have a solid white family and we live in deep southern country suburbs. It didn’t bother me until after my kids were born. I got to looking around and saw that things aren’t as diverse where I’ll be raising my kids as they were in the areas my parents decided to raise me. Suddenly I feared that despite my best efforts my children may grow to have an unknown racism about them. Maybe I would raise them well enough to never say something rude but would I raise them well enough to never point out the fact that someone else looks different? Remember, I’ve been on the other side and now I feared that my kids would treat someone the way that I had been treated. Doesn’t mean that they are trying to hurt someones feelings, just that they may not be aware that it does hurt feelings.
What was I to do? Move my family? No.
Was I to have conversations about the fact that people don’t always look the same? Maybe. I believe it is okay to let children know that people and families come in many varieties but I believe the best remedy is to raise children without thinking to notice the difference. One of the most painful things happened to me as a teenager. I was about fourteen and a close friend of mine who I hung out with every day at school was making fun of white people as a whole. I sat there a little puzzled that those words were coming out of her mouth and then someone pointed out the fact that I was white. She looked at me and said she forgot because I didn’t act like most white people. That’s not okay. In one way I’m glad that she stopped seeing a difference but on another level it hurt to know she classified people.
Do you understand how someone can be racist and not know it?
My Hope With Diverse Dolls
I know that diverse dolls will not fix all the problems in the world. However, I hope that my kids never see a difference between humans based on their skin colors. Yes, by trying to prevent racism I am being a bit racist because I want my daughter to have a wide variety of dolls, therefore I spent extra time looking for dolls. I just desire that the day may come when people don’t have to put thought into it. I pray the day comes when doll manufactors have such a wide variety of dolls because the world is not black and white and it’s not that easy to find diverse dolls. Then I pray that they take time to make each doll look beautiful, natural and unique. Once again, the world is not the same. All white dolls should not have blue eyes and blonde hair plus all blonde dolls should not have blue eyes.
The world has improved at embracing diversity I just pray that one day the world doesn’t notice how diverse we are and I pray that it’s not because we’ve chosen not to look.
P.S. These are my daughters favorite dolls because they are sisters. That’s the way I want us to all see life.