Black dolls are not only for Black kids, and maybe this simple statement needs to serve as a constant reminder in order for positive change to happen.
The majority of people match their children’s dolls with their skin tones but the truth is this is an unnecessary practice that is completely outdated and should not have existed in the first place.
In fact, as an olive-skinned child, none of my many Barbie dolls matched me in the early 90s. I could not relate to any of them and I cannot pretend to comprehend how difficult it was for a Black child to not find any diverse dolls on the shelf.
Fortunately, diversity is offered these days and since the Black Lives Matter movement will always be relevant and important, it is necessary to spark a positive change in children’s mindsets by including Black dolls in their set of day-to-day toys.
Recently, business coach and blogger Glo Atanmo directly posed the question: “Do your kids own Black dolls?” on Instagram. The post was followed with some pretty fascinating graphics on the topic.
“Kids form their first opinions based on what they hear and see. While it might make sense for you to get your child a doll that looks like them, have you considered getting them a doll that doesn’t?,” Atanmo said.
“Everything you buy for your kids could turn into a teaching moment.”
“This is because toys have the ability to inspire, and they can also be an opportunity to learn if they are diverse,” she added.
If this is new in your home, it may take your child a minute to accept, and that’s okay. This, however, does not mean you should stop diversifying their dolls or action figures. As Glo mentions, you could use it as a learning opportunity to teach your child(ren) how all dolls are the same on the inside.
Gradually incorporating dolls of different colours can positively influence them to embrace the beauty of living in a diverse world. As their parent, you are their educator and it is on you to inspire them to appreciate diversity.
These days, dolls are created with inspiration from a variety of cultures, identities, shapes, and sizes. They provide wonderful opportunities for children to learn and grow into human beings that love and embrace diverseness.
These wonderful differences that grace the shelves are reminders that everyone is the same on the inside, and no skin tone is superior to another. There is no arguing that the younger generation are capable of providing much needed change to racism in this world, but the onus is on us, as parents, to empower, educate and trigger that urge for change.
Though making a conscious decision to buy more Black figurines or dolls may not sound like the most revolutionary of acts, perhaps, it can inspire our children to understand and embrace, from very early on and without a shadow of a doubt, that Black lives matter.
Chereen Shurafa is a Doha based community counsellor, writer, and certified change coach. She is the founder of “Dear Chereen”, an online platform dedicated to mindfulness, mental health, and inspiration.