I am mixed race. Half black and Half white. People have asked me:
“But do you feel more black or more white”
I just feel like… me. I love my grandad’s salt fish fritters just as much as love my nan’s ham, egg and chips. I love Beres Hammond, Bryan Adams, Lauryn Hill, Celine Dion, Old Skool Garage, Opera, Grime and Pop. I really can’t say if any of this defines what colour I am inside – whatever that means. I feel like other people are more bothered about it than I am. I really don’t care. I like what I like, if it’s good then it’s good.
I try to pass this way of thinking down to my children too. Okay, so genetically they are 75% black, so more “black” than me (this is bloody ridiculous) but I think they should just like what they want to like, do what they want to do and not feel like they have to be any certain way. (Just not racist. They are NOT allowed to be racist.)
Up until recently I have had no causes for concern and I really can’t remember the last time I spoke about skin colour or race and I definitely haven’t in front of my children. But somebody has. I’m not sure who. But I feel like something has influenced my daughter because I heard her say:
“I don’t like the brown lady, I like the white lady, I be the white lady”
Me: (shocked) “Why don’t you like the brown lady?” (hoping for a reason other than that she’s brown)
Daughter: “Because she’s brown”
Me: “That’s not a reason not to like her”
Also me: “You are brown too”
Daughter: (smiles… laughs) “YOU’RE ONLY JOKING, I’M NOT BROWN”
Me: (straightest face ever) “NO… SERIOUSLY. LOOK AT YOUR ARM. IT IS BROWN. YOU ARE BROWN. AND YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. I’M BROWN, YOUR BROTHER IS BROWN AND DADDY IS BROWN”
I had a moment of panic thinking what if she wants to be white when she’s older?! What if she bleaches her skin, what if she thinks she’s not the most beautiful girl in the world? (she is by the way)
Is it my fault? She has 7 Elsa dolls and only 1 Tiana. I think my brain was going a bit over the top but I decided that I did need to nip this in the bud before it turned into a ‘thing’.
So I searched for different dolls. Ones that looked like her, ones that didn’t, darker, lighter, curly hair, straight hair. I wanted to show her that Elsa was not the only queen, Elsa is not “the best” and that everyone is beautiful especially including no ESPECIALLY my daughter.
It was only then that I realised how hard it is to source a variety of dolls especially black and brown dolls. I ended up ordering some beautiful ones from South Africa. The Dolls weren’t expensive in my opinion but the postage bloody was and then I had to pay customs fees on top of that.
Anyway, shortly after I was introduced to Colourful Dolls at House of Moja and they are SO cool. They have black dolls, white dolls, CURVY dolls (I didn’t even know they existed but they do and they are AWESOME). And the bit that gets me the most excited is that each doll comes with its own exclusive outfit and hanger! When I gave the doll to my daughter she goes:
“WOW she’s so pretty and cool”
Her reaction made my chest warm. It might not sound like a big deal to some people, but the idea that my 3-year-old has already been influenced in some way to prefer a skin colour, scares me. And it scares me more that I don’t know where this influence came from. I can’t put the blame on Elsa.
For all I know, my 3 year old’s comment about not liking the brown lady could’ve been a one-off. Sometimes kids just come out with things and they don’t know what they mean. She might have just been copying something that she heard, or she might have just fancied being a racist that day. Either way, it’s my job to make sure it doesn’t manifest and to teach her that it is wrong to dislike someone because of the colour of their skin.
Colourful Dolls can help us to teach children about variety, equality and inclusion. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I‘ve finally found a place to buy different dolls without having to burn a massive hole in my pocket. I’m annoyed actually that I didn’t have these dolls when I was little, I would’ve loved playing dress up with these beauties!
I’d love to know what you think about this. Do your children have a variety of dolls? Do you think it’s important that they are easily accessible ? Leave a comment below x
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