Monday, November 8, 2010

{Bringing Up Boogie} My Boy and the White Barbie—Cozying Up Under the Christmas Tree



By BASSEY IKPI

Boogie is in that “can you buy me that?” stage of life. I dread commercials with anything that races, flies, explodes or turns into a robot-monster-dinosaur truck. If it looks like it might kill you, Boogie wants it. When we’re out shopping and he goes through the, bug eyed, mouth wide open, “OH MY GOD!” process, I tell him that I don’t have any money or I only have enough money to buy exactly what we came for. He’ll pout and “oh man!” or say, “Well, do we really need toothpaste?”  but he’s fairly good at listening.





One day at Target, he asked for a Kindle (Yeah. I know.), and I said, “Boy, we’re in a recession.” He looked at me and responded, “Mommy, we’re in a Target.” I’m grateful that he doesn’t throw tantrums like the kids I step over in the toy aisle but still the “can you buy me that” gets a little annoying. 


So this morning when I woke up and found Boogie upstairs watching The Fresh Beats (you know from my post a few weeks ago how I feel about that) and thumbing through a Wal-Mart  Christmas mailer, I groaned to myself. Halloween was last weekend. It’s  not even Thanksgiving yet and can I get some pie before I have to wrap presents? Damn. I watched him for a little bit ,waiting for him to ask for a super Transformer Monster Truck Bicycle Power Ranger Batman car... thing. (He knows better than to ask for a gun.) But when Boogie noticed that I was in the room, he looked up with those  massive brown eyes, long curly lashes and big smile and  said, “Good morning! Can you buy me a Barbie?”

I’m sorry what?

I said, “Do you mean a Barbie like a bar-b-que?”

He said, “No. I want a Barbie. This one.”

And sure enough he pointed to the iconic toy. That’s what he wanted. I took a closer look to make sure it wasn’t some sort of Barbie-shaped gun or torpedo launcher. Nope. It was Barbie in all her Dream Townhouse glory. And I was confused.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind buying my son a doll. But he’d never shown any interest in dolls before and I really wish if he did, that it wouldn’t be Barbie, of all hideous things. Before I could say anything else, my brown-faced gorgeous baby boy said, “I want the white one.”

*record scratch*

What? What do you mean you want the “white one?” I immediately went from “You want a doll?” to, “Oh, and now you want a ‘white one?!’ Boy!” Somehow, I calmed myself down enough to say, “Baby, wouldn’t you rather have a black one?”

He said, “No. I want the white one.”

I said, “But the black Barbie is so pretty. Don’t you want a black Barbie that’s pretty?”

He said, “No. I want the white one. I saw the black one in the store and it was nekkid. I want the white one.”

I had no idea where this conversation came from or where it was going, but now I was firmly in Parental Confusion Land. You know, the place when your child says or does something so outrageous that your only response is a confused, “Oh... okay.” Like when I asked him why he had on two watches and he said, “Because I need to know what time it is all day.” Oh... okay.

Now let me clarify the “black one was nekkid” thing. In Boogie’s world, “nekkid” means shirtless for boys and/or wearing a bathing suit for girls. “Naked”means without clothes. I have no idea how he decided to make this distinction, but like with most things Boogie, you just gotta accept it and move on. He gets it and that’s all that matters. So I’m pretty sure that the black Barbie had on a bathing suit and he didn’t want anything to do with that. But still, if I’m going to buy my son a Barbie, I’m buying him a black one, dammit!

So I said, “E, I’m not buying  you a white Barbie.”

And he said, “Why not?!”

And I said, “Because YOU aren’t white! Why would you want white Barbie?”

And he said, “Because it’s cute.”

Me: “WHAT?! Are you trying to say that the black Barbie isn’t cute?!”

Before I knew it, my neck was rolling and I had the black girl finger up. (Let me interject here by saying I knew how ridiculous this conversation with my not-quite 4-year-old son was, but I felt like we needed to have it. I’m not raising no color complex!)

Boogie looked stunned for a second and said “No... the Black Barbie is pretty like you and Kanke and Grandma, but the white Barbie is cute and not nekkid.”

“So why do you want a white one and not a black one? I don’t understand.”

Boogie could tell that he had somehow upset me, but he wasn’t sure why, so he spoke very slowly: “Because I see pretty black people all the time. Plus the Barbie in Toy Story was white.”

Oh... okay.



It’s true. The Barbie in Toy Story was white. I’m still trying to figure out why I reacted so strongly to his declaration that he wanted a white Barbie and not a black one. Raising a brown boy into a black man in this country is difficult; all the subliminal messages about what’s good and what’s bad and who’s good and who’s bad sneaks in before you know it, and I got a little scared that my baby was starting to feel like his brown wasn’t beautiful. Boogie’s concept of race is all over the place. He thinks light-skinned people are white, and he identifies my friends by skin tone. “Chris That’s the Color White.” and “Mychal That’s the Color Brown not Michael That’s the Color White.” (Both of them are actually black men.)

Outside of distinguishing features, ethnicity doesn’t mean much to Boogie and I felt wrong for injecting race in a conversation that was simply about the toy he wanted because of the movie he loved. But at what point is the conversation valid and necessary? 

I want Boogie to love his skin and his heritage and his people, but I want him to respect and love the culture and heritage of others. When I was in college, I was all Arrested Development, Badu-ified, and I just knew that any child of mine would go to an African school and wear African clothes and speak African... like Africans! Apparently, being half Nigerian wasn't enough.

Now that I’m older and my worldview has expanded, I know I want my son to have a more layered approach to loving himself and respecting others’ differences. I know I have to teach him that before the world teaches him different. I just don’t know how to raise a child who is proud of who he is and accepting of others without upsetting that delicate, child-like innocence that makes so much sense in his big ass head. 

I do know this much: I'm still not buying him a white Barbie.

Oh... okay.






* * * * *





About our MyBrownBaby Contributor: Bassey Ikpi is a Nigeria-born, Oklahoma-bred, PG County-fed, Brooklyn-led writer/poet/neurotic who is the single mother of an amazing man-child, Elaiwe Ikpi. She's half awesome, a quarter crazy and 1/3rd genius... the leftover bit is a caramel creme center. A strong advocate of mental health awareness, Bassey is currently working on a memoir about living with mental illness and producing Basseyworld Live, a stage show that infuses poetry and interactive panel discussions about everything from politics to pop culture. Find more Bassey on her site, Bassey's World.

If you would like to be a featured contributor on MyBrownBaby, email your essays/ideas/blog posts/rants/musings to Denene at denenemillner at gmail dot com. 



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61 comments:

  1. Wow...I must say I'm rather taken aback at this post. I have been a faithful reader and as an adoptive white mom to be of a black child, I have often read your posts as a way to see what kinds of things I should be doing in order to make sure my child loves her brown skin and is proud of her Ethiopian heritage. I want to make sure I do right by her and make sure I know what kind of issues she will face and how I can help her overcome them and thrive.

    But honestly, this post offended me greatly. Imagine you were reading this on my blog and I was writing that my white child wanted a black doll and I said 'no, I'd buy him a gun first.'

    How would you feel?

    I am hopeful that I will teach my child to see the beauty in all skin tones and cultures and that she will have a plethora of dolls of all colours to choose from. You say you want him to respect and love the culture of others but in your own words, you say to him you won't buy him a white doll and when he questions why, you say "Because YOU aren’t white! Why would you want white Barbie?"
    That seems like quite a contradiction, and the poor boy has no idea why you are upset. He innocently thinks the doll is cute. That doesn't in anyway sound to me that he thinks his skin is not cute; just that he likes the white doll too.

    Your post really upset me because had I written it, I would have been called a racist. I just can't imagine the reaction I would get if I said I would not allow my child to have a black doll that she wanted, because she is not black. What an awful thing to say! I wish you would re-read your words and put yourself in my shoes, and if you claim to really want your son to respect others, you'd buy him the doll and let him have some diversity.

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  2. No offense but I can't put myself in your shoes. In this culture, white is the standard and anything else is "othered." It's important that brown children appreciate and think of themselves as the norm. I'm sorry if this post offended you but as a black woman in a white normative world, brown children are often given the impression that they arent' good enough. There have been studies done where black children choose white dolls because those "white dolls" are considered more beautiful while the black dolls are considered ugly and not as nice. This is something that white people don't have to worry about because white is the standard. In the mailer I spoke about, there was no other cultured Barbie just the iconic blonde haired one. DO you know what that does subliminally to the mind of a black child? It says, we are not standard. We are "other". And that is dangerous in a society that shoots black men first and asks questions later. I understand where you are coming from but if you're raising a black little girl, it is up to you to make sure that she doesn't feel inferior. If I buy him a Barbie, I will buy him a black one or I"ll buy him both but in our world, in the world I raise him in the same way I reject heteronormative assumptions, I also reject racialnormative assumptions. No matter how much the media tries to push it, we are NOT in a post-racial world. We are in a world that wants to ignore the vibrant and beautiful distinctions that make us who we are in order ignore the painful past that brought us here.

    And also the "i'd rather by him a gun" line harkens back to my very first post here where I spoke about not wanting my son to play with toy guns. I still don't. It was tongue in cheek hence the repetition of the phrase "Oh.. okay".

    Once again, I'm sorry you were offended but as a black woman, your blues ain't like mine.

    Bassey.

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  3. This is sad to me…

    & here is why.

    I remember being an 8 year old little girl & one Christmas my Uncle came over w/ all of my cousins. My cousin Elaine had picked out a cabbage patch doll for me. I remember hearing my Uncle tell my Aunt whom I lived with how he was so outraged because Elaine initially picked out a “black cabbage patch doll”. I remember being an 8 year old little girl and wondering WHY my Uncle was upset about the doll that my cousin picked out for me… and I remember getting the white doll & wondering why I couldn’t have the doll that Elaine wanted me to have…

    Kids hear and remember more than we think. & as kids we don’t see color. We don’t understand that some ppl allow color to define themselves and other ppl and why… and we are continuing the cycle.

    I’m glad you recognized what you had done, but it still doesn’t change what has all ready been done.

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  4. As a Black woman raising biracial kids I have to agree with Bassey. My daughter is 5 and only in the past few months have I softened and allowed her to own a white doll. I am off to an appointment so I don't have time to get into this but considering what Black/Brown children face in this society there are a lot of reasons for not buying white dolls when they are young.

    The standard of beauty in this society is white, plain and simple. When a white child wants a black doll it simply does not have the same implications it does for a child of color wanting a white doll.

    Will try to explain more later.

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  5. I understand white people being offended by this but you guys must understand that this isn't about you.

    This is about black children growing up in a world where they are constantly seen as less than.
    Black parents have a difficult task in undoing what the world has done by making sure black children are proud and see beauty in who they are.
    Not wanting black children to have white dolls is not racist. It's not a decision made with malice but a decision made out of protection of that child. A decision made so that that child has a healthy self esteem and image.
    While it wasn't age appropriate IMO (I read this as you yelling but that could have been for comedic effect), note that Bassey actually had a conversation with her child to get down to his reasoning. She didn't attack him or shame him. She just wanted to know why....nothing wrong with that.

    The story above about the black cabbage patch is not the same. Your implication is that the uncle has negative views against black people.
    In Bassey's story she doesn't have negative views of white people, her (over)reaction stems from the panic we as black people feel when we think we have done something wrong in our parenting where our kids have othered themselves and/or feel inferior.

    I understand being offended but really, get over it. Step out of your adult white woman shoes and put on your brown child shoes on and see what they see on a daily basis. The images out there aren't pretty and it is the parents' job to make sure that doesnt effect the child in a negative way.

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  6. If there wasn't a need for the little brown puppet on Sesame Street singing praises about loving her hair & the skin she's in...Joey Mazzarino (who's white) wouldn't have made the puppet/song for his adopted daughter, who's African.

    Some things are not so cut & dry as people would hope them to be, especially when you're raising black/brown kids in this country.

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  7. Honestly, I can see where Bassey comes from. There are so many Black children that grow up in this world with a color complex because they are being inundated with messages that tells them that "light is right" and if you don't have porcelain skin, blond hair and blue eyes, you're not good enough. These images come from the media, peers, adult and yes, their dolls. I was a little girl once and I remember several of my friends and even my sisters putting t-shirts on their heads so they can have hair like Barbie's. I was looking at a television show and saw a little girl say she only feels pretty when she's wearing her Hannah Montana wig. These issues are real. If it were me, I'd buy both or just the Black doll. Sorry.

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  8. as a black girl who doesnt have kids or isn't raising any anytime soon, i'd have to agree with the first woman.
    i once had this discussion in my english class about when its right to talk to a child about race and stuff and i have to tell you, its not when they are four.
    boogie asked for a white doll, if you want to get him a doll, you get him a white doll.boogie didnt ask for a white doll because he thinks white is prettier than black.he asked for a white doll because one of his favourite characters looks like the white barbie.
    i think introducing race into a child's mind when he is that little is kinda ridiculous because it shortens the innocent, no colour seen period of their life.
    i think black people need to be careful in answering a lot of racial questions posed by their kids because even though we are not in a post racial world yet, we should raise our kids in such a way that oneday we will get to that post racial world.
    my friend was actually telling me recently that the more his mother told him everyday that he had to be proud that he is black and none of his white friends' mums said that to their sons, he began to think that he was somehow inferior.
    four is way to early to make your son aware of race.

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  9. I LOVE this post!

    After watching the CNN 'study' regarding how children view race/skin tone, I do think it is our responsibility as parents/guardians to show our black kids that anything other than white skin is beautiful and not to be feared.

    For the first 2 years of my daughter's life, she had only white caregivers a the daycare she attended. One day I realized that she was absolutely scared of darker skinned people (being light skinned, I was the 'darkest' person she'd been around). I requested that her future caregivers were at least a mixed race staff. Although I fought with the administration about this, in the end, they saw my viewpoint and did as I requested,

    BTW a black child requesting a white doll can not be compared to a white child requesting a black doll. It's like comparing apples and oranges.

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  10. I must say that my heart melted at Boogie's explanation for why he wanted the "white" Barbie. The fact that he sees beautiful brown ALL the time speaks volumes as to the kind of world he is growing up in and I wish that more of our children lived life as he does (I mean, who has TWO watches at 3 yo?? LOLOL). For people to read this and instantly be offended just tells me that no matter how far we think we have come in terms of race relations, there still is no understanding. Why is it so wrong that Bassey doesn't want her son to have a "white" Barbie? Answer: It isn't. So long as she respects her son's right to have that Barbie. I LOVED the piece, can't wait to read more.

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  11. people are taking offense to what you said to your child in your house about what you want to teach him? whatever. in a perfect world we are all perfect parents. we are always pc and righteous and emotionless with our kids. in the real world we are afraid and nervous. Full of love and doubt about what the hell we are doing right or saying wrong and definitely unsure about theworld and it's influence on our helpless offspring. I feel your pain Bassey, we have such a responsibility to our sons, our little brown boys. My kids are like Elaiwe, confident cocky little men who have been loved and nurtured by me, a black woman, but also by a rapid succession of loving white women and men as well. They have yet to experience the exclusion of their color so surrounded in love they've been. So don't bother to defend yourself to those who will never have to dry the tears or explain the hurts we know soon come. Buy that boy his dolls... Barbie needs a friend, a pretty black girl, like his mommy, grandma and Kanke. You are doing just fine.

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  12. @BCMommy: I get it, you are one of the good ones. As a non-black parent, you wish to prepare your black Ethiopian daughter for the world. However,when it comes to race and ethnicity, you are going to have to understand that “it’s way deeper” than ye old “yeah, but if a white person did it, that would be racist.”

    It’s deeper than the doll, Bassey is talking about the socialization of black children and young black minds. Toys are powerful tools used to confirm/reinforce predominant racial attitudes and cultural norms. Non-white children aren’t born with racial inferiority complexes but are trained to have them through a socialization process that purports whiteness as normal.

    Non-white children learn early how to navigate a world unlike their own. Functioning/surviving as society’s “other,” many of us are very fluent in “white folk.” Hell, some of us could be considered “white folk” scholars due to years of direct interaction with white teachers, employers, co-workers, and etc.

    In fact, it’s white folks who have to make an effort to really learn about us or any other culture for that matter. Oh, and tv/movies/music does not count since most of these vessels for disseminating “black culture” are inaccurate and are often controlled by non-blacks.

    As a parent of a black child, truly educate yourself because the world is not post-racial, just post-confrontational when it comes to addressing race and ethnicity.

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  13. As a mother of two girls who have the exact opposite features that our society tends to put stock in and proclaim "the fairest of them all"—and you know what they are—I HAVE to protect my daughters' self esteem by making sure that they know that they, too, are beautiful JUST THE WAY THEY ARE. That simply is not possible if all the very things they use to help them dream and imagine—toys, books, movies, tv characters, etc.—DO NOT LOOK LIKE THEM.
    Most every black mom in my circle has had their kids rush toward the white Barbie, and almost all of us have had the same exact freak-out that Bassey had. You question where you went wrong, what show/doll/add/commercial/story/song/person made your baby think the skin she/he is in is not good enough. And then you work OVERTIME to make sure that they OVERstand that hating their noses and lips and hair and skin and wanting European features is NOT an option—that these things are not about to change and that that is okay. And once we’re sure that they get it—that they appreciate who they are EXACTLY the way they are, then we can get all We Are the World in the toy section at Wal-Mart.
    BCMommy: I appreciate that you come to MyBrownBaby to get information on how to raise your brown baby, and I especially appreciate your taking the time to comment. You have the right to your opinions. But I think you simply cannot take every issue concerning black people and turn it around and pretend that it's completely the same when it's applied to white people. We are two groups with completely different histories, different circumstances, and different perspectives when it comes to racial issues. So we can't pretend that a white mother looking at Cabbage Patch dolls or Barbies or the history of Disney princesses is going to have the same reaction as a black mother. It's just silly to pretend that all these things can be flipped around and that you can try to pretend that you wouldn't have been affected you spent your entire childhood NEVER seeing a doll/character who looks like you. It's a false equivalency and it serves us NO GOOD to try to go down this road.
    As I've said in a few posts, being proud of who I we are and loving the skin we’re in is no dis to white moms. We’re perfectly capable—as are our children—of loving ourselves AND others, no matter the race, social status, background, income level, intelligence, sexual orientation, etc., because at the base of it, we are all human beings. But there are differences between us, and those differences deserve to be celebrated as we see fit. My girls have white dolls. They have Asian dolls. They have dolls that look Latina. They have boy dolls. But the majority of the dolls they own happen to look like them. And this HAS to be. Because their self-love is THAT important to me. To us.

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  14. Bassey, don't get me wrong. I totally see where you are coming from. We live in Canada, and just got the Toys R Us christmas catalogue and I was complaining to my husband that the entire 2 page Barbie spread had only white blonde barbies and where were the options for our daughter? I see what you are seeing, and I get it loud and clear. I know that it's a white world and people of colour have to work harder to be at the forefront and that makes me sad that we live in a society that can elect a black president to the US, but still puts people of colour on the backburner.
    But, my initial point still stands. I teach Kindergarten. This year, I begged my principal to buy me 2 new babies for our house centre. One Korean and one black. I explained that the children in our class come from all backgrounds and I wanted the house centre to reflect that. But, I also wanted the house centre to reflect that Susie's mom is adopting from Asia, so maybe, as a white child, she might like to hold an asian baby like her future sister. Or whatever. It's all about diversity. I think there is a very fine line between teaching your child that black is beautiful (which is so so so important) and teaching him that white is wrong. Maybe I am reading into your post more than I should have, but I had the vision of the finger wagging like you spoke of and I envisioned a boy being somewhat shamed for daring to want a white doll.
    I can tell you that in my classroom of 4 and 5 year olds, they do not notice each others skin colour, and we have Punjabi, Caucasian, Haitian and Korean kids. It is not until adults point it out, that they see it at this age level. They colour their faces purple and blue. I have a whole lesson I do using a book called 'The Colours of Us' where we celebrate the differences in our skin at the end of the K year because I need to teach them to colour themselves with a colour that matches their skin. We also have a 'no 'skin' colour rule. Many of our white teachers will say 'use the 'skin' colour (meaning the peach crayon) which they don't realise is just wrong. I try to teach them early that we don't call it that because it wouldn't make sense because our skins are all different. They learn what they see and hear, so you are right to be teaching him now about being proud of himself, but I think there needs to be some more balance.

    Please don't tell me I don't get it, because I do. I know I am not black but because my eyes are being trained to see what my daughter will see, I am on hyper alert. I see that on the American Girl website, I cannot order a doll that will look like my daughter unless I order the 'escaped slave' doll, but my neighbour can order her daughter one and customize it's skin and hair to look like her. I was so mad I wrote a letter to the company. I see what you are saying. But I also see that fine line of love yourself/white is wrong and I honestly think you stepped just a smidge over it.

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  15. Awwww...*deep sigh* the doll issue. It hasn't changed since I was a little brown baby.

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  16. Let me preface this by pointing out that I am a white male father.

    I appreciate Bassey's post and her dedication to instilling a sense of heritage, fostering worth, and self-esteem in her son. I agree that despite the diversity of the world that we live in that white is the standard, though I think it is slowly getting better. And I applaud her for taking a step back to question her own motivations and sensibilities.

    We all should only want our children to grow up to live in a better world then we did, to be more understanding and tolerant then we were or we were exposed to.

    Im no expert but we are talking about a 4 year old here, shouldn’t he be allowed to explore the world and its surroundings with the wonderment and un-tainted eye of a child, before pushing political, cultural and societal agendas on him?

    You make note of your college days and Badu-esque position on things, wasn’t that something that you were allowed to come into on your own? Having experienced what you have haven’t you softened that stance a bit to a level that you are comfortable with? This was something that you did on your own after having lived your experiences (privy to those I am not).

    Shouldn’t your son be allowed the same benefit? To live and learn and form his own opinions, with the guidance of a strong positive roll-model in you?

    I haven’t walked a day in your shoes, and I appreciate that there are different and even double standards (I venture to guess that in many instances the response would have been different if E had told his African Father that he wanted a white Barbie).

    I would just hate to see you create a closed minded fundamentalist or worse yet in your eyes, have you push your son away from his culture and his race, because you are force feeding him it.

    You sound like an intelligent, thoughtful human being, who wants the best for her child and feel that’s what her heritage offers, the best for her child. There is nothing wrong with being proud of who you are.

    Just tread carefully so that you don’t polarize your child and deprive him of the learning experience that is life.

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  17. With all due respect, I'm not sure people have read what I wrote. I clearly stated that now that i"m older and my worldview has expanded, I want my son to love his heritage and the heritage of others. I do NOT want him to do that at the expense of his own self love and worth. My son has no concept of race. "white and black" are just colors to him. Even after this conversation, I didn't sit and have a conversation with him about racial politics and discrimination and Emmitt Till. You know what we did after we talked, we went and ate waffles. Then he went to go see Megamind with my brothers and I went to the bookstore to write. Our lives went on. He didn't join the Nation of Islam. I didn't demand he only start wearing kente cloth and read The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Which I did when I was 11). We went on with our lives and I realized I needed to figure out a better way to handle things that were based on MY fears. We can't ignore race. When he gets older, it's going to slap him in the face in the form of "nigger" thrown at him in hostility. I will prepare my son for that. I will not let him walk into the world blind but I will do so with sensitivity and compassion. Because I"m raising a little boy who wants a doll and that innocence and that compassion and the empathy he has now will be preserved.
    By any means necessary.

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  18. I loved this post. As a 30-something milk-chocolate brown girl I have had this conversation many times over as people don't understand the implications of early childhood associations.

    Four is not too early. If they watch tv, go with you shopping, or just leave the house it's a worthy conversation. Studies have shown that teachers/childcare staff use skin tone to discriminate against children at any age. Granted, the conversation should be different than if you were talking to a 7, 16, or 23 year old but it is still worth having.
    The moment when you feel less than because of what you look like can come from anywhere and anyone in a second. You can be crushed, confused, hurt, and condemned when you least expect it. Parents need to ask the questions necessary to ensure their children are able to handle the stress that comes with navigating the twisted system that is socio-racial-economic dependent America.

    My mother was adamant about the images in our home. We grew up in a predominately white middle class neighborhood in NC. Still, she refused to buy white dolls. I can remember when Cabbage Patch dolls were the must have, and us pouring over aisle after aisle, store after store looking for a brown one for my sister and I. In true 7/8 year old fashion I was tired of looking and asked why I just couldn't get the white one since they had hundreds. My mother told me "You won't ever give birth to a baby that looks like that. No matter who you marry, so no we keep looking until we find a baby that looks like you" I got it then, I definitely get it now. Dolls are the first chance we have to nurture/care/provide for "someone". My mother used dolls to teach me how to take care of a baby, I treated them as though they were my own children. My mother also didn't allow white santas/angels/jesus/etc. She wanted us to know that we were beautifully made and that we could derive our own joy. The only exception ever made was for Noah (my mother collects Noah's Ark stuff) and even then my mother will say... this is a story you aren't praying/hoping/investing your dreams in him. She didn't want us thinking it took a white man to "deliver" you.

    I have many friends that can't understand my mother's diligence, but of ALL the things I was confused about as a child, why I was brown or what that meant was never one of them. She and my father were products of the Civil Rights south. When we went to visit my Granny in Alabama in the 80's & 90's the town was STILL segregated.

    So the conversation of race was early in our house/family.

    Being proud of where/who you came from, being comfortable in your skin, doesn't mean you dislike or think less of someone who looks different than you. Instilling a positive self image in a brown baby is hard, but possible. That's not racism that is living as a minority.

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  19. Deneane, I appreciate your words. But as you said, your kids have dolls of many races, as do mine. Why can't Boogie have both, while still learning to love and be proud of who he is? Is that really so wrong?

    I shudder at the thought of what might happen if Boogie went off to university and came home with a white woman (gasp!) Would he feel shame in loving someone of a different colour? Would he feel like he would be disappointing his Mom if he brought home an asian or a latino woman who he loved more than anyone else? Would he feel that you felt he didn't respect his heritage or culture or himself? Or would he not even give people of a different background a chance to get to know him and love him because of that lesson back in his 4 year old mind -'you can't have a white one beause you aren't white'.
    Because I feel denying him the doll of his choice is the beginning of that lesson in general...no we don't live in a post-race world, but no one is doing anyone favours when at 4, we are teaching kids to stick with their own and not be diverse. But that's a whole other ball of wax.

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  20. OH MY GOD!!! Are you serious?! What kind of leap is that to make. I'm a single mother and I date men of ALL RACES. I want my son to be happy. This blog was about my overreaction. The last line was a joke! Especially once I realized it was about him wanting all the toys he saw on Toy Story. It made me think about race. IT didn't make me racist.
    Y'all need to...

    Ok.. I'm starting to get mad now. Let me stay off this blog.

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  21. Oh god I have to much I want to say about this. I went thru something VERY similar with my niece who's a nice dark chocolate brown like myself. No matter how much I pointed her towards the Princess Tiana doll, she still wanted the "white' princess doll. There's some DEEP brain washing of our children happening where they only associate certain "color" of dolls and toys as desirable. But lemme stop here before this comment turns into a rant

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  22. Oh, Dearest “Anonymous” I never made this about me if you would have read my comment to its entirety. & I don’t know if you were “making this about me” because you generalized your statement to the “white women”.

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  23. & yes, Margaret, it is comparable. The SAME message is being instilled in that child.

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  24. There just has to be a middle ground between feeling like we need to always press our children into playing with toys that look like them and letting our children also develop a love and appreciation for other races.

    I am a white mom of two fabulous little brown babies, and I can honestly say that I bust my tail daily to show them love for both sides of their heritage.

    I honesly wish EVERYONE would do the same, even if your children are not biracial like mine.

    We all know that there are more books, dolls, toys etc that are white, but we are also lucky enough that we live in a time where our kids can have a whole rainbow coalition of toys if we want them to.

    I would choose that, over any other option, even if I wasn't working to represent both sides of our family :o)

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  25. Years ago, when my daughter was a pre-schooler, we were in a bookstore along with her friend. The little girl's birthday was coming up. The child ran to a bright pink book with a blond disney princess on the cover and exclaimed, "I want this! I want this for my birthday!" I was stunned. I had a visceral reaction of "No, No! You don't want that! She doesn't look anything like you!" I looked around but the best I could find was a book with a "Jasmine" cover. "How about this one," I asked. "Look how beautiful she is."

    Did I mention I'm white and the child's not? The child's response, as you can imagine, was "No! I love this one!"

    Later, on the playground, I was bitching about the experience to another parent. This parent, who is white, looked at me as if I had suddenly popped a big o' hairy boil on my forehead. Had it never occurred to her that those relentless images affected minority children? Or was she stunned that I would even notice or care? Don't know, don't care, since the woman slowly backed away from me anyway.

    The exchange gave me a brief glimpse into the challenges parents of brown babies face. I understood then what white privilege really meant. I might brush up against the problem occasionally, but I didn't have to live it day in, day out. That's the essential difference, I think...

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  26. I see that a lot of you read the post enough to comment but did you guys really read it? She acknowledged that she over reacted. Why are you guys trying to paint her as a racist? She never said anything bad about white people or that anything was wrong with white people. She just doesn't want her child to fall into the same trap millions of children before him have fallen into. I would understand your points if she went into some long convoluted lecture but she didn't. He said something. She reacted. She collected herself and they moved on with their lives. Sigh...y'all just don't get it and probably never will.

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  27. I think what some are overlooking or maybe forgetting after reading is that Bassey questioned herself and her reaction to his stating that he wanted a White Barbie. She took a minute to examine why she had such a strong reaction and how he might be affected by it.

    We, as adults, affected, burned, jaded, scorned, or privileged by racism have a very different view of the world than our children. Some of our children are far more sheltered than others. Some of our children experience racism at young ages and aren't even aware of it. My son had such an experience and it broke my heart. He didnt even realize what happened and I was grateful for that.

    As parents, we want our children to be shielded from hurt and to have pride in themselves. As parents of "other" children, we feel compelled to instill in them a sense of pride in their "otherness" so that they may be strongly equipped with whatever is needed to make it in a world that will challenge them regularly. We want out "colored" children to love their color, our gay children to be comfortable in their sexuality, our daughters to feel equal, etc. This forces many of us to take aggressive measures, at very early ages, to lay strong foundations.

    I've had similar reactions and I've had to check myself. I have to be mindful not to project my own negative experiences as a Black woman onto my still-innocent Black child. He is aware of racial differences, but not in the ways that are significant. He associates himself with Black characters and dolls but doesnt think he is "less" than his new White friends in school. He said his best friend is a little White girl in his pre-K class. My former militant self might begin to imagine him bringing home a blonde haired blue eyed White girl from college and the tears would flow. I'm not that woman anymore. I'm a mother who wants her son to never have to experience the negative aspects of his "otherness".

    I wont deny him White toys or watching White characters. I'll simply remind him that everyone is beautiful for who they are and hope that he loves himself as a Black boy.

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  28. This post shows how sensitive a topic this is. For black and white mothers alike. I think that some of the white women who may be reacting a bit defensively are the women who have opened their homes (or wombs :)) to children of all colors. So while they are working hard to fight the stereotypes as well, and finding all the right toys etc for their children, it almost comes off as an insult when you read that black women do not do the same. NOT saying at all that that was what the author was saying... I am just saying that I think that that is part of where some offense comes from. :o)

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  29. Remember there was a time a little boy couldn't even ask for a doll, no matter the color, without the entire family going ballistic! Kids are funny little creatures, full of all kinds of surprises for their reasoning. I have told many people this story before, although it isn't about a doll, but it is about color. When my son was about 12 and starting to think about 'looking good', he came in to me one day and asked me why he couldn't have perfect skin like little Spence (daddy was Spencer, senior). I looked at him, LOL, and said, because Spence's daddy is African-American and Spence's mommy, is a mixture of AA, Native American and white, and both parents happen to be beautiful and produced beautiful children with gorgeous skin color, sorry that was going to happen from his two all white Jewish parents! Don't get it wrong here, my son was not naive, he just wanted beautiful African-American skin color like 'little Spence'. I'd buy the doll (or get one from a thrift shop)...kids move on from toy to toy very quickly when they are little. No guns in my house, not even a squirt gun. My kids are all grown, with kids of their own, they survived, and I think I have! Still laughing.

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  30. For those who think children are ignorant of race:

    When I was five, my mother and I used to watch reruns of the Andy Griffith show. My mother explained that the show originally aired when she was little.

    One day while we watched the inhabitants of Mayberry do their thing, I turned to my mother and asked, "Did black people exist when you were growing up?"

    My mother looked at me with a half-smile and asked, "What makes you say that?" Immediately I explained,"If this show was around when you were little, how come it doesn't have any black people in it?"

    At the age of five, I concluded that black people obviously didn't exist back in the day, since they were not present on television. Although I was too young to understand tv life vs. real life, I noticed when I saw people like me on tv and I especially noticed when I didn't.

    In fact, I distinctly remember counting the number of black people I saw on tv during commercial breaks.

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  31. Those who are offended by this post…I sigh. I kind of understand it because if I ever read a white blog where a white woman flipped out because her child wanted a black doll, I would be neck rolling and wondering why. But that’s to say that I kind of understand. KIND OF. But if you read the blog…like really read it, Bassey is surprised and understands that she is over reacting and if you don’t get that the ‘gun’ comment was thrown in as something crazy…well…

    When it comes to skin color for black people, it’s not just about black and white…it goes beyond that to black, white, light skin, yellow, caramel, honey, butterscotch…There are a lot of skin color issues in the black community and we all want to move beyond that and raise a child who loves their skin. Growing up a chocolate child with a light skin sister who had ‘good hair’, yes, I had a color complex. She was always referred to as pretty. I NEVER got compliments. I was nappy and dark. I remember going over my friend’s house and we would play with our dolls. She had a Kenya doll—ya’ll remember those, from the 90s? You could get them in different shades of brown. Hers was light skin with light eyes and it looked like her. My doll was a ‘Little Miss Jewels’ and she was chocolate skin and chubby—like me. I don’t know if my daddy did that on purpose not, but I looked at her light skin pretty doll and my chubby dark skin doll and was jealous.

    I don’t have kids, but I have 4 God kids. The two oldest have a different daddy than the two youngest. My two oldest (8 y/o boy and 9 y/o girl) are beautiful chocolate children. The two youngest (3 y/o and 18 months) are adorable little light skin babies. So light skin in fact that they look mixed and the 3y/o barely looks black. We’re not quite sure how that happened. We think they pulled from the half white side of their paternal grandmother. I remember walking through the mall, the three oldest with me and someone stopping us (an older black woman) to tell us how beautiful the 3y/o was and asked what she was mixed with and when we said, she’s not mixed, the black woman was disappointed and was like, “But she’s so cute! And look at that good hair!”

    My friend is terrified that her two oldest will get color complexes. She probably would completely lose it if her daughter preferred a white doll over a black one…not because she has a problem with white people, but because she doesn’t want them to feel as if white is any prettier than they are.

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  32. My husband and I have been reading over the responses to the aforementioned posting.

    Our issues, as parents, will bleed into our children whether we want them to or not. It doesn't make us demons, it doesn't make us bad parents, it makes us humans.

    Instead of you folks telling Bassey how to or not to raise her child (hello?)...be sympathetic to the source of the hurt and make yourselves aware (by reading books, poems, blogs, etc) of what black women have had to endure in this country. For those of you who "think" you are culturally aware...pick up a copy of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot and take a peek at some of the lesser-told stories and consequences of generations of racism.



    My husband and I are raising a

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  33. ....My Husband and I are raising a young black boy and soon to give birth to a black girl. We will work hard to raise them with beauty and purpose, to know that they are never "less than" no matter what society and media say

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  34. I feel sorry for some of the children mentioned in this thread and Bassey's isn't one of them. And for all those who think 4 is too young to discuss race; from the moment a child gets a sense of him/herself (approximately 18 months) they are aware of race and differences in people. That Bassey does not want her child to be othered by himself shows responsible parenting. If that's racist, I'd hate to be the little brown person you're raising. Someday, you'll think your child is racist too when they start recognizing their own racial identity and their blues ain't like yours.

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  35. Sara~as a black woman raising a black girl in this world today, my daughter wanting a white doll is NOT the same as my white friend's daughter wanting a black doll. Until you walk this earth with other than white skin, you'll never understand the how deep this issue actually is. You may try, but you won't.

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  36. So sad that people can not come together on the common ground of being mothers, loving our children, and doing what we feel is best for them. Gathering stories and advice from everywhere and maybe growing a bit ourselves in the process. I truly hate that this is turned into a white mom vs. black mom thing. Its insulting and sad on both sides.

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  37. The reactions I've read from white commenters scares me. I worry about the black children being raised in their homes or growing in their wombs.

    Miss Sara, to suggest that you received the same message that a young black girl receives in a world full of white dolls, princes, heroes, etc. is ridiculous and I think you know this. You're being intellectually dishonest comparing the two.

    I think all the white parents' offense is intellectual dishonesty- they understand the scenario Bassey described, but have allowed their offense to supersede their intelligence. Many "color-blind", "post-racial" white people, especially white parents of black children, are incredible ego-maniacs. In their minds, they are champions of all that is good and right- for christsakes, they're raising your black children and opening their wombs to them- what more do you want?! they think they've learned all the important things about race and are the prototype- they love all folks without the "baggage" of the past. They resent black people for having that baggage and making them feel guilty and want to protect their image in their child's eyes by ignoring the realities of society. Their offense comes from resentment- they've done everything right now why can't they play in the cool black person group and why can't you want your child to be just like them, white doll and all?!

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  38. Anonymous~ Wow. seriously ? What an ugly post. Perhaps what you should realize, and I will speak for myself and MY family.. is that MY children get the same looks, the same comments, go thru asking me for "princess hair" (straight, long), they get the comments about look at that brown kid and words much worse.. as yours do. MY children are also growing up with brown skin, and just because their mothers skin happens to be white, doesn't mean that they arent going thru similar situations as many on here.

    MY BROWN BABIES ARE JUST AS BROWN AS YOURS TO SOCIETY, EVEN IF YOU THINK THEY ARENT.

    So please, don't ever try to act some of us dont know. We see it in our childrens hurt faces and we experience it first hand. I dont ever pretend to have walked in your shoes, so dont kid yourself and think that you have walked in mine.

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  39. @annonymous- that was so rude and wrong!!
    OMG.i cant believe this.i've read all the comments here and i kinda agree with all parties because all their points have been made with great courtesy towrads the other person.
    i think you should not bring your prejudices into this discussion.
    i cant believe that you just said that.gosh!!!i pity the brown baby that YOU are raising.

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  40. Bassey, don't get upset. Some people just dont get it. BCMommy didn't really read the post and didn't see the conflict that you were having. She just read what she wanted to understand. I love your posts and this one was awesome as usual. Peace and Blessings to you and Boogie!

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  41. Whoa, whoa—folks! I stepped away for a few hours to hang with Mari and I came back to ALLA THIS. Please, please, PLEASE stay on topic WITHOUT insulting. We absolutely CAN NOT assume what is going on in each others houses, in each others' minds when it comes to the raising and rearing of our children. I absolutely can not condone anyone making blanket statements about white moms raising brown children; this is JUST AS HORRID as white moms making statements about us. I'm all for the discourse—goodness, what discourse we're having!—but please, RESPECT BASSEY (and REALLY read her post before you comment), and RESPECT the opinions of those who are taking the time to make their feelings heard. You may not agree with them. But don't attack...

    BASSEY: Keep doing what you do, baby. Honest to goodness, your writing and your exploration of motherhood is unflinchingly honest and refreshing, and I appreciate you more than you know.

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  42. itsnotalwayshowitseemsNovember 8, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    My two brown daughters (1&3) will NEVER have a white doll until I can see that they are aware of how beautiful they are no matter what society tells them. I figure that will be about when they are 10 or so. If it wasn't for Princess Tiana I was going to ban all Disney movies but because of her I have allowed some of the others to enter their lives. Not having white dolls doesn't mean that they won't have white friends. My mom didn't allow us white dolls but her house was still a rainbow of colors with our friends and I still have great relationship with all my friends. Dont worry BC mom, society will do a great job in telling my daughters about the "white side" of things. They'll learn about it in school, see it on the t.v, in books, in walmart, toy's r us, they'll soon realize that anything associated with their skin color is "bad" while anything associated with "white is pure and good. WHO ARE WE KIDDING HERE, definitely not BLACK FOLKS. I live in Canada too, and just last week there was two incidents in the paper about racism. You can read them both at www.cbcnews.ca under "kkk halloween costume and "cross burning guilty". Now tell me if I don't arm my kids with knowledge/love of self who is going to do it for me. Please, spare me the "teach them to love everyone" crap. Yes, I'll do that, but love of self comes first! After all, if I'm not careful the "white world" I live in will only teach them, love of all things white and you can forget the part that says "colored" even if that's the part that you represent...

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  43. God Bless America, some of y'all need to take a deep breath and step away from the keyboard.

    This is one of the most difficult topics to discuss, and even more difficult when it's with a toddler. But, as the CNN 'report' showed us, it's never to early to take into consideration.

    Bassey is blessing us by sharing her experiences so that we may learn from them. In case you missed today's point, let me spell it out for you: ask what's in your child's head before you freak out/jump off the deep end.

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  44. Two observations before I chime in here:

    1. I love that Boogie makes a distinction between nekkid and naked. I'm going to start doing that.

    2. His comment that he sees "pretty black people all the time" seriously made me tear up. What a lovely thing for him to say. You're raising a wonderfully sensitive little guy there.

    Okay, so then...
    I'm also the white adoptive mom of a beautiful black 14 month old girl. Fortunately, I haven't had to deal with any of this yet, but I know that day is coming. I hope her father and I handle it well.

    I tend to avoid these kinds of discussions where anonymity reigns because, honestly, the critical comments from black moms toward white moms stress me out and the "if a white person did that argument" from white moms make me want to bash my head into a wall.

    But I loved this post because we can see Bassey work this out in her gut. I applaud her for being so open. On a daily basis I worry that I'm not a good enough mom and I cut myself very little slack - especially when dealing with race issues. Bassey, your little freak-out, and its accompanying blog post, was reassuring to me. We're all doing the best we can and doubting ourselves when we shouldn't.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  45. People need to stop taking everything so personally. This post was about Bassey and what SHE experienced with HER child. Many of us Black moms and Dads can relate. Others maybe not so much. We need to just embrace that difference of experience and opinion and MOVE ON! Move on people move on. EXCELLENT post by the way!!!

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  46. Bassey, I hope you keep posting away on this site. I figure you are growing with your first child like everyone has to. We learn things every day. As I said before, when I was a child, you didn't even consider giving a boy a doll, so I guess we have come some what of the way. You do what is best for your little boy, sounds like he has a loving and caring mother.

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  47. people are taking offense to what you said to your child in your house about what you want to teach him? whatever. in a perfect world we are all perfect parents. we are always pc and righteous and emotionless with our kids. in the real world we are afraid and nervous. Full of love and doubt about what the hell we are doing right or saying wrong and definitely unsure about theworld and it's influence on our helpless offspring. I feel your pain Bassey, we have such a responsibility to our sons, our little brown boys. My kids are like Elaiwe, confident cocky little men who have been loved and nurtured by me, a black woman, but also by a rapid succession of loving white women and men as well. They have yet to experience the exclusion of their color so surrounded in love they've been. So don't bother to defend yourself to those who will never have to dry the tears or explain the hurts we know soon come. Buy that boy his dolls... Barbie needs a friend, a pretty black girl, like his mommy, grandma and Kanke. You are doing just fine.

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  48. Wow this is a great post. I'm a black woman and I remember as a little girl, 6yrs old at the time I had gotten a white Chatty Cathy doll (most of my dolls were white to think about it). Not too long after somenone gave me another Chatty Cathy doll, this one was a black one. I thought this is cool, but I already had one and kept on playing the white Chatty Cathy. I remember my dad taking the white doll away becuase I didn't play with the black one enough. Now in my mind it had nothing to do with the color of the doll; I just had one already that I played with. I didn't think the black doll wasn't pretty and I didn't think being a black girl meant I wasn't pretty.

    I don't see a reason to be offended by this post, its a conversation between a mother and child where the mom is trying to understand her son's preference for choosing a toy. The fact that this little boy says that he sees beautiful black people all the time is amazing. He's just expressing his reasons for picking this doll.

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  49. Wowsers...it appears I've created a whole sh*tstorm here. I have thought and stewed and re-read these posts all day. I've even shed a few tears because I think my words have been a bit twisted. You are right, you can't flip this issue around and say 'if a white person said that'. It is deeper than that and I apologise. But I wrote from my heart, and my heart hurt when I read the post. I'm just sayin'.
    I've read Bassey's original post over many times and I can see it was about the struggle she felt at that point where he asked for the white doll, and her mind originally went to that 'why, is it because you don't think black is beautiful?' I apologise, because after re-reading her post, I can see that she was responding to her assumption that he thought his skin wasn't good enough, and then realised that was not the reason why he wanted the white one, it was simply about Toy Story.

    I can imagine the panic that set in because, contrary to popular belief, I understand how very important it is to teach black children that they are beautiful and their features are no less lovely than any other child. I learned a lot about this from Denene and all of you who post about the amazing things you do for your kids each day and for that I am grateful.

    To be Con't....

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  50. Con't...
    But, please don't assume that I am uneducated in this regard because I am white. I did not make blanket statements about black people, and I don't think it's fair to assume that I don't understand the any of the reality of what happens in your world. Now, that said, there is no way I will 'fully' comprehend what it is like to be black. That would be an outrageous assumption and please don't mistake me saying 'I get it' for me saying 'I know what it's like to be black' What I mean is I know the stereotypes and the lack of positive black role models, characters in movies, toys for kids, even books for children and on and on. I have read countless books on transracial adoption, written by people of colour and adoptees. Over the last 3 years, I have tried really hard to become more informed and aware about the issues my child will face growing up in a predominantly white world. I have been reading Denene's blog and taking in every word, both from her and her guests, as well as the black mom's who are posting about what they do for their kids. I want to learn and grow and I appreciate all of the insight the people on here have given to me and my fellow adoptive moms.

    This whole thing makes me sad because I have today been accused of being ignorant to the history of black people, as well as being an 'ego-maniac' because I am trying my damndest to right that wrong in my classroom and school and home. I gave our school librarian a list of books featuring black characters and asked her to use some funding to purchase them. Does that make me some kind of ego maniac? A few posters said they are going to feel sorry for the daughter I raise?
    Really? That's so hurtful.
    If I told you that I read 'The Book of Negroes' and hung off every page would it matter? I know many white moms are very apprehensive of asking black moms for advice about all things, from race discussions to hair, because we are so worried we won't do it right. And believe me, we want to do it right. I apologize profusely if I offended you, Bassey. That was not my intent and I can see that this discussion is really emotionally charged. I noticed that many of the other black posters (not all) had said they have dolls of other colours. My daughter's room is full of black dolls, which I have sadly, had to hunt all over for, and there are few other kinds in there too. But like Denene said, more black than white. It just saddened me to think that you wouldn't allow him to have one white one when the reason didn't seem to be that he was identifying himself as being 'less than'. If he had, then there would be no way I'd buy it for him, like you said, until he had a firm sense of loving himself.
    With much respect,
    C.

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  51. Oh, ok!! LOL

    After I stopped choking from the sheer hilarity of this post, all I could say is I understand!! My daughter's first crush at age 8 was a white boy in her class that she told my best friend about because according to my daughter at 8, "I know you'd want me to like a boy that looks like me, but this boy is nice to me"... Oh, ok!!

    How many gray hairs do you have already? I've stopped counting mine!

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  52. I have not read all the comments. . . but I want to make the statement that my 4 year old white son and my 2 year old brown daughter both notice and see and talk about the differences in their skin color, their eye color, their hair color and texture (curly, straight, snarly, etc.) They know and they knew it before they could verbalize it. Kids know. . . .and notice things without the help of adults.

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  53. With all due respect to the mothers here just wanting their babies to be happy and confident, my work as a (white) anti-racism activist compels me to add a little something to this discussion. I commend the white mothers for educating themselves about the culture & heritage of their brown babies. And even, for wanting to be sensitive to “diversity” (as this is fraught with problems, but not ill intentioned). But this approach falls short of recognizing “white privilege”. The thing about racism is, if we (white people) admit it exists, admit that someone is hurt by it; we have to also acknowledge that “someone” is benefitting from it. And in that, we must acknowledge that “someone” is us (white people). I’ve facilitated workshops on “white privilege/anti-racism” so I can guess what you may be thinking: “me?! I am not privileged! I come from working class family, etc.” This privilege has nothing to do with money. This is a privilege of being able to say things like “I see no color” or having other such notions of being “colorblind.” Only a white person in this country has such a privilege. If you think about it, only because you’ve CHOSEN to either adopt or birth a brown baby, has race become such an intimate issue for you. But it was a choice, therefore a privilege. And from that privileged viewpoint, some took offense to Bassey’s post. This offense is problematic because many of you are trying so hard to make sure your child is aware of her/his culture, but are you aware of yours? You cannot really begin to understand someone else, until you first understand yourself. Please white moms of brown babies: don’t just read about the heritage of your baby. Know yours. Understand how you fit into this system, not just as the one to “love a brown baby”, but as someone who is fully aware of the privilege of this even being a choice. Read about white privilege. Look up Peggy McIntosh, Jane Elliott, and Tim Wise for a better understanding of white privilege. It will make you a better white person. And hopefully, an even more compassionate mom when your child comes home crying because some well-intentioned white person said something mean.

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  54. BC Mommy - you're doing the best you can, too. It's hard not to take this stuff personally - what folks say on blogs - but try not to sweat it too much. You know you're a good mom, and strangers on the Internet can't tell you otherwise.

    And you're right, us white moms of brown babies are trying very, very hard to get it right. We all need to cut each other slack. Just in the future, avoid the "if white people did that" argument. It's just not the same.

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  55. Thanks, Carlea. I do realise that was way out of line,

    Divaspinster -Again, people assume I don't 'get' white privilege and and are telling me to educate myself. Did I say I don't understand what 'white privilege' means? No, I don't believe I did.

    There will never be enough education for a white person to fully understand what it means to be black, but we can try our best.

    Please don't try to tell me that I only understand society's views and oppression of black people because I am adopting. I am university educated with a history degree, where a lot of the classes I chose to take were related to emancipation, slavery and segregation issues. When I decided to become a teacher, I took classes on multicultural education and believe it or not, I have read Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. All of that came well before we decided to adopt. So while I appreciate your advice, it is a big assumption.

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  56. Another thought provoking post. I'm another AA mom that would agree with you, regarding the images in the USA promoting white beauty as the standard of what is beautiful. I think you are right on point. Love, love your Bring it up Boogie series makes my Mondays more doable :-)

    Here is a great website for those who are derailing from this discussion definitely good one to have on your bookmarks--> http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

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  57. Another white mother of Black children and for the record, not remotely offended. You can't "reverse" race in this country. White Supremacy doesn't magically flip and become Black Supremacy when you switch out the colors of people in a drama.

    My partner was recently upset because she was convinced or daughters were aruging over who got to play with the white Lego person (the only dolls they have that aren't Black are Lego people who come in multi-packs!). I found out later that they were arguing over a Lego person n a white DRESS. Talk about relief.
    Frankly I'd buy my kids a gun before a white Barbie too, and that means, right after NEVER.

    My Black girls are BEAUTIFUL.

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  58. Oh, I’m sorry I’m so late to this post and discussion. Let me just chime in to support Bassey and the funny and moving post. Before I became the mother of a black child, I may have had different comments/thoughts. But the funny thing about parenting a child of any race is that the needs of the child quickly trump your own. When I became a mother, my daughter’s needs rearranged my pre-conceived notions and experiences. I think about the world in a completely different way. One of the most important goals in my life has become making sure that my girl grows into a confident, proud black woman. I read Bassey’s post as a fellow mother of an AA child, a child who started talking about her skin color when she was 2.5 years old. I relate to Bassey as a mother trying to raise a child to love her skin, her hair, her heritage.

    I do hope that Bassey doesn’t stay angry. You have your supporters. We love you. We are here. Please, carry on with your good work. Thank you. Loves.

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  59. Black woman with no children, here found the OP by Bassey very funny and a real teachable moment.
    The playing field is not level for black people in the Americas and Europe, once you acknowledge this important fact then you now when and where to plough....
    Den in the UK

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  60. I loved this post. I worry so much about raising my black children in a very white privileged world further compounded by the fact their parents are white. We are adopting and I am constantly reminded that it is so much harder to find black role models and equal accurate representation in this world. We are so far from a level playing field and yet in adopting from Ethiopia I have been constantly assured by white people that race doesn't matter. Well it probably doesn't matter when you are white, surrounded by white people, and represented by the media in all outlets. I love your blog and you continue to remind me why my diligence in creating a world within my home of strong, beautiful, black role models and inspiration is of the utmost importance. Thank you.

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