Mom mounts campaign for ‘Barbies of color’ party supplies

Five –year-old Georgia Braithwaite wanted a Barbie party for her birthday complete with Barbie plates, cups and napkins. However, there was a catch. Georgia is African American and when her mother Karen Greene Braithwaite searched on the internet for black Barbie party supplies she found none.

From Time.com:

“The first African-American doll, Christie, strutted onto the scene in 1968, and Mattel, Barbie’s manufacturer, features Barbies representing more than 45 nationalities. Were they leaving these dozens of groups out of its Barbie-themed party supplies, which seem to focus only on the classic blue-eyed, buxum blonde?

Braithwaite found herself telling a white lie to Georgia, proud owner of at least six black Barbie dolls. “It was a little embarrassing for Mommy,” says Braithwaite, a human-resources manager who lives in Harlem. “I said, ‘Oh, Mommy clicked on the wrong thing.’ She was starting to get upset. I told her that I’d find it, but I started realizing that it may not exist….”

“So last month, Braithwaite posted a petition on Change.org asking people to request that Mattel endorse party supplies “featuring Barbies of color.” She recorded an adorable video featuring Georgia (in which her 2-year-old brother has a photobomb cameo) and has collected more than 3,400 signers.”

“On Mattel’s social media page, the company tweeted two replies to people who brought the issue to their attention: “We work closely with our partners to develop and distribute Barbie products such as party supplies,” and “We will be sharing your valuable feedback with them to start conversations and evaluate the business.” Mattel has reached out to Braithwaite, according to company spokesman Alan Hilowitz, but has not yet spoken with her.”

I personally think this is a reasonable request to have party supplies for Barbies of color. Now maybe Party City doesn’t carry them but maybe you can special order them from Mattel. I think if Mattel wants children of color to buy their toys and play with them they should represent these children across their product lines.

When my girls were little my mother was a little bit obsessed with buying them slightly Asian-looking dolls to match their quarter-Filipino appearance. She worked really hard at finding dolls that weren’t black but weren’t white. She loves American Girl because she could find dolls that looked mixed just like our kids.

Do you think it’s reasonable for Mattel to offer parties supply to represent Barbies of color? Do you try to buy dolls of color to match your kids? Do you kids mind playing with dolls that don’t match? Have you ever colored in supplies or dolls to look like your race or ethnicity?

58 comments Add your comment

DB

April 4th, 2013
12:58 am

Well, Mattel doesn’t actually manufacture the party supplies — they are licensed to various party supply manufacturers. I guess no one ever thought about it when they approached Mattel for the rights to the images. Seems like a slam-dunk marketing opportunity, though — I’m sure someone will decide to run with it.

Hallmark did have a Barbie Princess party theme at one point that featured a couple of Barbies of color. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001QD4S3K/ref=asc_df_B001QD4S3K2455190?smid=A2Y2FDQ0SZTFU7&tag=shopzilla_mp_1020-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395105&creativeASIN=B001QD4S3K
Maybe it wasn’t a big seller?

As far as playing with dolls that don’t “match” – as if a Barbie matched ANY human being short of $1 million in plastic surgery! Mine didn’t care too much for Barbie (in spite of all the carefully preserved Barbie clothes I had saved from the early 60’s!), but loved American Girl and Polly Pockets. I was always amazed at the kids who had 5,8 or 10 Barbies — we used to just have one, maybe two if we had indulgent relatives, and then dress it up!

Mayhem

April 4th, 2013
6:49 am

Mother of 2

April 4th, 2013
7:09 am

I think it’s a great idea to have popular party supples that cater to different races. I have boys, so their parties were more super hero themed. My kids didn’t care about the color of their action figures – the Hulk is green.

bgb

April 4th, 2013
7:21 am

Yawn to the overall topic.

“Do you kids mind playing with dolls that don’t match?”
- More of that high quality UGA journalism proof-reading professionalism showing
- This question and its sloppy presentation offers so much – including:
Demeans readers (primarily moms/women) – is this really a serious question to ask
Points out the continued laziness of the blogger

To the question at hand: playing with dolls that don’t match – the horror

Me

April 4th, 2013
7:36 am

I’m with @Mayhem again — Yawn

Techmom

April 4th, 2013
7:44 am

I just hope if Mattel’s suppliers do make them, that people of color buy them to show their support; or they don’t and realize that their kids could care less about the color of the characters on their plate and perhaps it’s simply the parents who care more about it. In this case, if the kid is asking so maybe it’s legit.

The only thing I would note is that it could simply be that people aren’t buying the products with characters of color and therefore suppliers don’t see the point in manufacturing them. When I was looking for a Cabbage Patch doll for my niece last year, I found tons of colored dolls left on the shelves and virtually no white ones. Now, that could simply be because Cabbage Patch dolls don’t appeal to the black community or children but a market has to exist before suppliers will put money into something. I don’t think most suppliers are thinking about whether or not it’s appropriate to make dolls/ characters of color but rather what’s going to make them the most money.

q

April 4th, 2013
8:19 am

This lady seems awfully racist. She’s judging these plates by the color of the skin, not by their character. They very well could be damned fine plates if given the chance to be the plate they were built to be. Come on, give them chance to support that piece of cake,( I’m guessing it will be chocolate cake.)

seriously???

April 4th, 2013
8:21 am

People, if you don’t want to read her posts then there is an easy solution-DON’T. There is no need to be rude about it. If you don’t have anything to add to the conversation why waste anyone’s time? This is HER blog and HER ideas/suggestions/questions. Stop being jerks.

J

April 4th, 2013
8:37 am

can you Please gripe about something that matters??

JF McNamara

April 4th, 2013
8:44 am

@seriously???,

This is what people are now. We hide behind screen names and act like jerks because there is no accountability. Look at the comments sections on the blogs here on AJC, and you will see that these people are actually pretty docile. Its pretty barbaric on Wingfield and Bookman’s blog.

I don’t let my kid read the AJC or any other blog with comments. Gotta be a teen before I expose them to the thoughts of some of these folks.

iRun

April 4th, 2013
8:47 am

(1) This is a blog about inane parenting topics. And by that I am not insulting Therese. By definition a lot of parenting topics are inane. So, do not come to read it if you’re bored/insulted/contemptuous of said inanity. It’s your own fault.

(2) Only one person brought up race, and they were joking, but to bring it up seriously before people get crazy – this is not a race issue. This is a missed business opportunity. This is how business works: You complain your needs/wants aren’t being served; The company decides if it’s profitable to fulfill and does if so; End of story.

for all the yawns out there

April 4th, 2013
8:51 am

you try telling your brown eyed girl why the dolls have blue eyes . And see the change in her eyes as she looks for things that look like her. I have always looked for the sheets ,plates cups , clothing that have brown or red people on them.

Denise

April 4th, 2013
8:53 am

I have 2 nieces and I try to buy them Black dolls because they are Black girls. One niece is basically being raised by a White mother (Brothe’rs fiance) and I want her to have some Black visuals, which she wouldn’t if left up to her step-mother. She doesn’t think to get Black ballerinas on her posters and pictures even if they are available because showing my niece diversity doesn’t matter to her. Buying my niece books with little Black faces like hers does not matter to my brother’s fiance. My brother’s fiance wants to let her hair be wild all over her head because she doesn’t like “a million plats” like Black girls wear (learn to do less!) but she is not White and her hair does not lay down like a White girl’s and it needs to be “tamed” and not all over her dang head! LOL! I want my to see reflections of herself everywhere, the same as she sees reflections of cute little White girls. If there were Black Lalaloopsy dolls (her current obsessions) I would find those. And yes, I have bought her books with White children and White dolls and no, I don’t color in cards with White people. That’s stupid, to me, because White people exist in our world and we love them the same as the Black people in our world. It’s not racist to want to see yourself and people that look like you.

Really??

April 4th, 2013
9:23 am

Then they need to make Barbie in EVERY ethnicity so we don’t confuse the children about their identity. Then, you will have to make EVERY toy available in EVERY race. God forbid a black child plays with a white doll. Let’s consider Muslim Barbie (comes with one outfit, a burka), Asian Barbie (VERY thin and tiny), Hispanic Barbie (comes with Pregnant Barbie and 5 little babies), Jamacian Barbie (comes with ganga), etc. How about a Mixed Barbie…????

Black army men, Muslim Army men, etc.

Racism is TAUGHT, you aren’t born with it. The majority of kids don’t care what the color of the doll/toy is. Do black boys cry about not having black army men?

JF McNamara

April 4th, 2013
9:33 am

Really??,

Actually, most army men are green, but there are Black members of GI Joe. There are Black action figures.

Secondly, if this is not a problem that you have (which it is apparent), then how do you know what it feels like to not have a doll that you can relate to? Kids notice they are different from others. They aren’t stupid blobs that can’t see skin tone.

Thirdly, the topic here is skin tone not religion, culture or stereotype. Your comment is completely irrelevant, nonsensical and utterly off topic because you can’t understand the difference.. There is only really three or four variations in skin tone.

Denise

April 4th, 2013
9:47 am

JF McNamara – you are correct. Children may not understand RACE and the implications of RACISM but they do notice skin tone and want to see some that look like theirs. Even my niece that lives in a mixed environment goes for the Black dolls because they look like her, as SHE has SAID, not because anyone else has said anything to her. When I buy her books with girls that look like her I don’t point it out. She just SEES it. When she gets older, she will see the differences in culture and religion and race (though hopefully not in a hard lesson), but right now, at FIVE, she only knows that she is brown. There is NOTHING wrong with that. Just as there is NOTHING wrong with a White child recognizing that they are White and NOT brown like their friend in their class.

Really??

April 4th, 2013
10:05 am

Suddenly it’s all about race. As usual…..

Denise

April 4th, 2013
10:37 am

@Really?? – So a brown child wanting to look at a brown doll is RACIAL? You clearly don’t understand wanting to see something that LOOKS LIKE YOU. That’s the point. That is what the mother wants. That’s what the child wants. Something that LOOKS LIKE HER.

Think about this with the intelligence of the adult that you are but from a child’s perspective. I am brown skinned. Always have been. I’m 40 years old so when I was 5 there were no brown baby dolls so my “baby” had blue eyes and white skin. Now, I know that baby does not look like me so I ask my mother how will I have a baby with white skin and blue eyes. She tells me I have to pretend. So I do and I love my “baby”. I wouldn’t have had to question if the baby had brown skin and brown eyes like me. (Of course I would have had more questions but that is how I rolled.)

Why is me wanting a brown baby that looked like my brown face a RACIAL issue? At 5, I don’t know RACE. I just know that my “baby” doesn’t look like me.

If you cannot understand this, it’s because you don’t WANT to. You don’t want to see beyond your experience to see others’.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 4th, 2013
11:01 am

I was shocked to read this story this morning from the Savannah news station and Maureen has written more about — I didn’t realize there were STILL segregated proms going on in Ga. — They had them when I was in HS and segregated courts too even in metro Atlanta but I am just stunned this is still happening. We have elected an African-American president but little girls can’t have black Barbies on their party plates and black teens can’t go to the same prom was their white friends.

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2013/04/04/in-black-and-white-segregated-proms-continue-but-students-at-georgia-school-trying-to-make-history-with-first-integrated-prom/?cxntfid=blogs_get_schooled_blog

Turd Burglestein

April 4th, 2013
11:07 am

They couldn’t find “black” party supplies? What exactly are “black” party supplies???

The article also says that little girl is african-american. Last time I checked, there were lots of white people living in south africa. Do white people from south africa automatically become black when they come to the US or do they have to undergo the citizenship process before they can be proper african-americans?

Really??

April 4th, 2013
11:11 am

Denise – you are clearly making a bigger issue of this than need be, calm down. So what? Did having a white TOY do long term damage you? Do ALL your toys have to be brown?

Also, wanting your niece to have black visuals is NOT up to YOU. It’s up to her father, whom I am assuming is black. Unless you are raising this child, leave it alone. It’s not your battle to fight. So calm down.

Turd Burglestein

April 4th, 2013
11:13 am

This article is politically incorrect. She should be looking for “african-american” party supplies…not black party supplies. I consider black party supplies to consist of black cups, black napkins, black forest cake. Other people might consider black party supplies to be something totally different.

RJ

April 4th, 2013
11:15 am

@Really, not all Muslims wear burkas, so you got that one wrong. Many are walking down the street dressed like everyone else. It’s very easy for a white person to say how it doesn’t matter what color the doll is because they always have the option of buying white dolls. It does matter that kids grow up seeing themselves in dolls, games, backpacks,TV shows, etc. I bought everything I could that was Black Barbie when my oldest was growing up. She had everything from black Barbie bedding, t-shrts, shoes, suitcase, sweat shirt, whatever I could find. Why? Because she liked playing with dolls that looked like her. That’s not a crime, nor is it racist.

I hope she is successful. My little one will be having parties soon enough and I would love to have that available to me.

Turd Burglestein

April 4th, 2013
11:16 am

What about “black” barbie accessories??? Do they have those, such as:

barbie hair extensions
barbie gold teeth grill
barbie gang tats accessory kit
barbie hoopdie/low rider corvette
barbie baby daddies

“oh noes she din’t barbie”

HarlemMom

April 4th, 2013
11:16 am

The Barbie princess line of 2007 was not that successful, due in part to being very specific to a 1) Barbie 2) who is a princess 3) In a specific Barbie story. Barbie’s party product lines have failed due in part to poor anticipation of what customers would actually want. They’d be far better off offering race-neutral products along with those that feature Barbie images so that consumers have a choice, which is really all it’s about.

Turd Burglestein

April 4th, 2013
11:19 am

HarlemMom – They’d be far better off offering race-neutral products
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

How about “transparent” barbie? Completely clear and made of non-tinted plexiglass.

Really??

April 4th, 2013
11:38 am

Oh boo hoo, my child’s toys don’t look like my child.

Does EVERY toy have to look like your child. What about stuffed animals. Does your child have stuffed black panthers? I hope no polar bears, although I’m sure brown bears would be sufficient. Gonna cry now because stuffed animals don’t look like your kid. Must remove them immediately. Do you drive a black car because it has your same skin color? No white cars allowed, they don’t look like you? Where does it end? It begins with a doll at age 5….there you go. TEACHING racism…..you must play with what looks like you.

This is utterly stupid.

Really??

April 4th, 2013
11:39 am

How about you teach your kid diversity and that not everything in this world looks like them. Let’s teach them that everyone is different and we are all not the same.

Let’s try teaching that to our kids. Let’s explain WHY not everyone looks the same.

Denise

April 4th, 2013
11:57 am

Really?? – YOU are utterly stupid. No, not everything looks like them, but sometimes it’s nice to have something that does. That’s the point. If you missed that, YOU are stupid.

Really??

April 4th, 2013
12:12 pm

So Denise, because I don’t agree with you now I’m stupid. Resorting to name calling now? That’s very mature…..

I managed to make it through my childhood without toys that looked like me, and I became very successful in my career. But that wasn’t an issue when I was a child. Acceptance, tolerance and diversity were taught to me as a child, not skin color. Apparently THAT wasn’t taught in your home. Skin color was.

Warrior Woman

April 4th, 2013
12:16 pm

@JF McNamara – The topic, according to TWG, is “dolls that don’t match,” which includes all aspects of appearances – skin color, hair color, clothing, etc.

BTW, if she couldn’t find Barbie supplies featuring African-American Barbie, she didn’t look very hard. A quick web search turned up at least three sites selling African-American or multi-racial Barbie party supplies and another selling Barbie party supplies with logos rather than faces.

Mayhem

April 4th, 2013
12:23 pm

My guess is this 5 year won’t remember her Black Barbie Birthday at all when she gets older. I know mine don’t remember what the decorations were at their 5th birthdays…

jarvis

April 4th, 2013
1:09 pm

I heard black Ken’s non-existent penis is twice the size of white Ken’s non-existent penis.

Once you go black Ken you never go back again.

Just Me Thinking...

April 4th, 2013
1:11 pm

WOW! Just from some of the responses here, I can tell this is the south. It’s interesting when someone that is not of color says that a person of color should just get over it. Kids DO see color… it may not bother them what race a person is that they play with, but they do see the difference. This subject has been brought up many times and in different places over the years. The truth is sometimes you do want to see something that looks like you. Heck kids love to see things that have their names on them, so why would wanting to see a doll that looks like them be wrong or strange?

FCM

April 4th, 2013
1:47 pm

Denise I get what you’re saying — I *think*.

You see I have brown hair and brown eyes with very pale skin. Growing up all the baby dolls were blondes with blue eyes (perhaps the doll market belived the Aryan race superior??). I loved dolls but I really wanted one with brown hair and brown eyes.

These days you can get dolls that look a great many ways. One of the Barbie dolls in our basement has a tatoo! Some have pink hair…one has purple eyes. Most of them are tan (also not a skin tone I am too often….more like sunburned tourist barbie!).

K's Mom

April 4th, 2013
1:52 pm

@Denise, I think you are doing the right thing. I am caucasian and I have very dark hair. When I was little, I wanted a Wonder Woman doll instead of a Barbie because Wonder Woman had dark hair. Little people may not see race, but they do want things that look like them. My almost 3yo has blonde hair and the rest of us have dark hair and he sees the difference. So keep exposing your niece to all races and keep getting her some things that look like her.

To those of you not happy with the topic…skip it. Goodness gracious some of you are rude.

K's Mom

April 4th, 2013
1:54 pm

@FCM…you too! So glad someone else gets it! Ever try to find a Christmas angel with dark hair? They do not exist!

Cuttyg

April 4th, 2013
1:54 pm

Ironic that all the pale skinned complainers on here are simply saying get over it. I’ve never seen young, white children playing w black dolls or those of other races. Wonder what they would say if all Barbies were black. Must be nice being the majority. Enjoy because it won’t last long.

SEE

April 4th, 2013
1:58 pm

“WOW! Just from some of the responses here, I can tell this is the south.”

Great! Now we’ve got regionalism going. Let’s make it really fun and bring in the sexism that Barbie promotes as well. Who’s up for a cyberfight!

Jessica

April 4th, 2013
2:06 pm

My guess is that these products don’t exist because the companies that make party supplies don’t think such a collection would sell well enough. It isn’t because the people who make the plates are racist or forgetful; it’s just that they don’t make products that won’t be profitable. A petition won’t change that.
It’s sad for little girls who want their Barbie party plates to look like them, but life’s not fair. Find a different party theme, or better yet, find a way to make your own party decorations. Time to stop whining and show your kid how to get creative — that’s what you do when Party City doesn’t have the stuff you want!

Mayhem

April 4th, 2013
2:10 pm

Amen Jessica!

Denise

April 4th, 2013
2:21 pm

Really?? – I apologize for name-calling. I was aggravated but that was inappropriate.

I was raised in a White neighborhood and was the only Black in my class many years – I WAS the diversity – and had nothing but nice White friends that had me over their houses and I had them over my house. I spent the night; they spent the night. I was not treated differently and neither were they. I LOVE my brother’s White fiance much better than his Black ex-wife because of who she is. (Her family doesn’t let my brother come to their house though. Not thrilled with HIS skin.) Ooooooh, shocker, right? As for success, I have 3 college degrees and a 6-figure salary (who gives a flip). But I am the diversity at my company, too. I’m even a two-fer – Black and woman. LOL! We are majority White men but so are most engineering/technology companies.

Get It Right

April 4th, 2013
2:23 pm

Is this really a topic? I wonder what MLK Jr. would say about this? Oh, wait. Didn’t he something about dreaming of the day when we would not be judged by the color of our skin or something like that? Hmmm…

Wilson

April 4th, 2013
2:33 pm

“As for success, I have 3 college degrees and a 6-figure salary (who gives a flip).”
– Apparently you do

Really??

April 4th, 2013
2:45 pm

@Denise – Thank you for the apology, accepted!! I apologize to YOU for my comments as well.

BTW – I am a white woman, I married a black man, and I have a mixed child. Her father ran away when I announced I was pregnant, leaving me to raise her by myself, with absolutely NO support from him, or his side of the family. I have a beautiful daughter, who actually considers herself white, as she was raised in a white environment, with my family.

tchrmom

April 4th, 2013
2:58 pm

I especially like the comment from “just me thinking”. Kids these days do see color, but most of them don’t care about that as long as their friends treat them well. With dolls, I think it can make a big difference. If it didn’t, why would American Girl dolls be so popular? You can get one of those to look almost exactly like you! I’m a white, southern girl…but I can see why it would be important to know that your ethnicity/skin color, etc. would be nice to see on a store shelf. To say otherwise is kind of obnoxious to me. How does anyone know how someone else feels unless you have walked in their shoes? Oh, and I have really dark hair and dark eyes…I remember getting a doll at about 8 years old and she had dark hair (blue eyes though) and I thought that was cool.

Denise

April 4th, 2013
3:36 pm

Really?? – we’re good. I don’t like to have conflict just because two people don’t understand each other’s POV.

And your daughter is the same as my brother’s fiance’s daughter. Her father is Black (well, mixed) but she considers herself White. She “looks White” and she has no contact with her father’s Black relatives. It’s a shame with someone is missing a piece of themselves through no fault of their own.

Denise

April 4th, 2013
3:38 pm

Wilson – I was responding to something when I mentioned my “successes”. I would never just put that out there for no reason. People who know me would know that.

Sk8ing Momma

April 4th, 2013
6:50 pm

Do you think it’s reasonable for Mattel to offer parties supply to represent Barbies of color?

Yes, why not? IMO, if Mattel and it’s licensee are wise, all of their dolls and products should become browner, just as the American population is getting darker. It is apparent that whites are rapidly becoming the minority in our country, and the browner population should be reflected.

Do you try to buy dolls of color to match your kids?

Absolutely! We’re African-American. I only bought AA dolls for my daughter and AA figures (ex. GI Joe) for my son. IMO, it’s important for AA children to have dolls to reflect their heritage. It’s part of having a healthy self-image of one’s beauty.

Do you kids mind playing with dolls that don’t match?

No, they didn’t; but, I made sure that they had dolls and action figures that look like them.

Have you ever colored in supplies or dolls to look like your race or ethnicity?

Absolutely! We color all people “brown” in my house, and I only purchase figurines, paintings, artwork etc. with African Americans.

Fred ™

April 4th, 2013
7:04 pm

We are SO overwhelmed all the times with false charges of “racism” that sometimes we become numb. That being said:

You are correct Theresa that if nothing else, MATTEL should offer some products. I’d do it tomorrow except I would have to get licensed an certified and have Mattel’s permission blah blah blah…..

I think this is one of the better columns you have done in a while. I really can’t imagine WHY Mattel is being so stupid. I see a lot of money that could be made…….