Last week a video showing two little white girls crying after receiving black dolls as Christmas gifts went viral. Many people questioned the motives of the mother, who was responsible for uploading the video, as well as those of the aunt and uncle who gave the little girls the dolls.
Did Uncle Seth and Aunt Cynthia purposely give the girls the dolls as a prank? Did the girls’ mother know that they wouldn’t appreciate the dolls, and get a kick out of them being ashamed of the gift? Whatever the motive, the video showed a clear bias when it came to something as simple as an innocent toy. If the mother cared about teaching her daughters how to accept people for who they are, she could have explained to them that the dolls were no different from their white dolls. But unfortunately, that life lesson wasn’t caught on camera.
At least not that camera, but it did happen on Katie Nachman’s.
Nachman saw the viral YouTube video and, in a Facebook post, explained how upsetting it was to her:
There is a video going around with two little white girls getting Black baby dolls for Christmas and then crying about it while their mom laughs in the background. This is NOT that video, and I’m not reposting it because it’s a great (racist) example of how NOT to parent your kids.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, these two little white girls got Black American girl dolls for Christmas, and were positively thrilled, so I thought I’d make a little replacement video right quick. Since December 25th these two have been carried around non-stop, changed in and out of outfits constantly, and lovingly put to bed every night.
So as a white mom with white kids, why not buy dolls that look like them? Well, they do have white dolls. We also have Hispanic and Asian dolls. But I think it’s important for my kids to have dolls who don’t look like them because for one, it teaches them that all skin colors are beautiful. Two, it demolishes the expectation that in order to love someone, care about someone, be a friend or play with someone, the other person has to look like you.
It may seem trivial or silly, but it’s not. Our kids learn about race from us, their parents, first. And white parents have an obligation to teach our kids about race from a young age, so they won’t grow up to perpetuate the cycles of institutional racism and injustice that are eating away at our country from the inside. Little things like this matter, because you are creating an environment in your home that is inclusive to everyone, and invites discussion.
There are also many age appropriate children’s books about race issues, from slavery to the Civil Rights Movement, to the Japanese internment camps during World War II, and desegregating public schools. Read them with your kids and answer their questions. And never tell them “that was a long time ago” or “all races are the same!” Because it wasn’t and they’re not. Instead, teach them how to see injustice and do the right thing.
In the video uploaded, the girls lovingly hug their dolls and explain why they like them: