Many people were touched by a recent viral story on social media about a white girl who defended her choice of a black doll when a cashier told her the doll didn’t look like her.
“Yes, she does. She’s a doctor like I’m a doctor. And I’m a pretty girl and she’s a pretty girl. See her pretty hair? And see her stethoscope?” said Sophia, 2, according to her mother’s Facebook post about the incident.
Little Sophia’s indifference to the color of her doll is as adorable as it is inspiring, and both the mother and daughter were heaped with praise on social media.
But, lost in the focus on her heart-melting statement is an important fact: Black girls and boys regularly play with white dolls and action figures without any fanfare. And they have for a long time.
Debbie Garrett, the author of Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion, grew up playing with only white dolls. When she had a daughter, she wanted to “make sure that as an African-American child, she saw herself in the dolls that she played with in order to reinforce her significance, her self-worth and self-esteem.
“All children need to see themselves in a positive light, and that begins with their playthings and the books that they read,” Garrett said.
She said this is particularly important for non-white children “in a society where everything is geared toward whiteness.” If children don’t see themselves reflected in their toys, books and popular culture, they might…