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BLACK BARBIE...: Friend or Foe? (1109 hits)

Right around this time of year (sometimes as far back as summer), I begin planning and purchasing the Christmas gifts I will give to the little girls in my life and donations. So I am reading this article that was posted on Black Voices this morning about a new, most realistic Black Barbie.

I'm challenged as always about the same old issues with purchasing black dolls. I have my favorites that I usually stick to, but I'm needing to check out this new black barbie anyway. However, the article is causing me to get frustrated because it reports that the black barbie shows more of the negative image of black girls...the video girls....chicken heads (terms from the kids in my life, sorry), ghetto images, etc.

Now, let me explain something here. Most of the kids in my life are vulnerable kids with special needs in one form or another. For example: emotional problems, behaviors problems, come from home where parent has been killed or imprisoned for lengthy sentence, one parent household, drug/alcohol abuse any which way you want, child molestation/teen s*x (before being a teen...), and then brain disorders such as ADHD/ADD or depression. (Sigh). But we all need love and a little bit is better than none at all.

So, with all kids it is a battle trying to steer them away from the garbage videos, but I find that a simple drive into a "swanky" neighborhood (hope, personal goals) and lessons about decency is a good motivator when we take the time to do those sorts of things. Of course, there have been reports for years about the influence of black dolls on black girls so this is very important to me that this new black barbie might be too ghetto (in negative sense)?

Check out the article (please) and let me know if this black barbie is friend or foe. (I won't buy any dolls meanwhile...smile).

So In Style Dolls, the New Black Barbie
Posted by Abena Agyeman-Fisher on Oct 1st 2009 4:10PM
Filed under: Profiles
Comments (534)

Citing her own positive experiences playing with Barbie dolls as a child, Stacey McBride-Irby, a Barbie designer for the past 12 years, has now created her own Barbie line, So In Style.

There used to be a time when African American dolls were hard to find; now, there are a number of offerings for black girls to play with, including So In Style, which further diversifies the offering. The So In Style line boasts a "positive play experience," where girls are not only inspired by their trendy playmates but are also exposed to a toy that actually mirrors their African American features.

The dolls, with their hip kicks, stylish poses and modern accessories (i.e., hoop earrings and neck chains), offer a contemporary cultural experience for girls.

According to a New York Daily News article, though, some of these "modernities" are not being wholeheartedly embraced. Some are arguing that the dolls draw on the wrong things and have too many "rap-inspired details":

"Not all black people like hip-hop," said Barbara Mootoo, 15, of Manhattan, looking at Kara's silver rope chain necklace. "They gave her a chain like a 50 Cent video."

Another feature being criticized is the long, flowing hair of each doll:

Tyaine Danclaire, 15, of the Bronx, liked Trichelle's straight, long hair because it looked like "a weave," but she thought the idea "was sorta racist."

Dodging the controversy, McBride-Irby exclusively maintains to Black Voices why her new line of dolls should be the next present to the beloved little girl in your life:

Black BarbiesMattel10 photos Flip through black celebrity dolls through the years and the new So In Style dolls.(Note: Please disable your pop-up blocker)
Black Barbies
Flip through black celebrity dolls through the years and the new So In Style dolls.

Black Voices: What inspired you to create these dolls?

Stacey McBride-Irby: Since I was a child, I used to play with Barbie, and Barbie was an inspiration to me to become a designer. I created these dolls because I also want African American girls to have positive play experiences, and I want African American girls to be fully represented.

BV: There are other African American dolls on the market. How are So In Style dolls different?

SMI: They are different because they reflect more of our hues and features, like broader noses and different skin tones, and then there is the mentoring aspect.

BV: You mention how mentoring is important. How do you represent this with your doll line?

SMI: I have big and little sisters play together in positive ways. Grace and Courtney are in to science and drill team. Kara and Kianna are into math and music, and Trichelle and Janessa are into art and journalism.

BV: How are these interests played out by the dolls?

SMI: On the back of every package, there are play pieces that come with each of those themes.

BV: Barbie has made a number of African American dolls over the years, some in the likeness of Oprah Winfrey and Diana Ross. There were also culture-inspired dolls, such as the Kwanzaa Collector Barbie Doll. Did your collection pull from any part of this legacy?

SMI: Yes, I designed the AKA doll. It came out in June 2008. They were these beautiful black dolls. After I designed that, it really inspired me to create more dolls that represent African Americans.

BV: You mention that Barbie dolls inspired you to be someone successful. What message do your dolls drive home?

SMI: Barbie helped me meet my dream of becoming a designer, and I want my dolls to also allow African American girls to play, create and aspire to meet their dreams.

BV: You also mention that you want your dolls to serve as role models. In what way?

SMI: Well, mentoring is important to me, so I thought that creating big and little sisters together would teach girls the importance of mentoring.

BV: When do your dolls come out?

SMI: They came out in July, but they hit major yesterday. The big sister can be purchased for $19.99 and the little sister can be purchased for $7.99.

BMI: Why should moms buy your dolls?

SMI: Moms should get my dolls because the dolls represent their children and show them they can be anything.

Evangelist Agnes B. Levineis the Author of the fasinating book: "Cooling Well Water: A Collection of Work By An African-American Bipolar Woman" ISBN 13 978-0-9754612-0-4 available on www.Amazon.com while supplies last!
Posted By: agnes levine
Sunday, October 4th 2009 at 8:46AM
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