Let’s Play a Game! This week on…IS…IT…RACIST?!!!

Has child's play gone too far on this one?

A facebook friend posted this picture of an amazing Walmart find just yesterday. He whipped out his virtual rubber stamp and slammed it down on the photo, with gusto I might add. RACIST was the verdict, prefaced by his stance on the Barbie clan being a stereotypical representation of a black family. Most people chimed in with either LOL or SMH but I gave my honest and fabulously unpopular opinion on the matter. “It’s not racist, it’s just an extremely marginalized representation of the African American diaspora.” I was unnecessarily wordy and smug with my response but it was an accurate reflection of my thoughts. Me being a young, black mother doesn’t automatically put me on the defensive with issues like this. I didn’t get up in arms because 1) the image doesn’t represent me and 2) who decided that the representation was a bad one in the first place? Black people come from many different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and each has its own flavor. You only have to stroll about any urban neighborhood to see the real life version of what the image  portrays. So, what’s the big deal?

Is it the weave? What’s wrong with wearing weave and color? Black women aren’t the only ones who do it. Emos do it, and Hannah Montana too. I know there are some natural sistas out there screaming, “WHY DO BLACK WOMEN FEEL THE NEED TO WEAR WEAVES ANYWAY?” and that’s a  great question that I will be sure to cover down the line but, for the sake of staying on topic, let’s just focus on the issues that pertain the the image.

Moving on –  Is it the style of clothing and the fact that the daughter is clothed the same way? The vibrant and randomly “matched” trend has been all the rage for a little while now, but dressing like you put your clothes on in the dark is nothing new and it’s not monopolized by black people. Wannabe bohemians and hipsters and all sorts of subcultures have their own interpretations of eclectic style.

Is it because the daughter is dressed like mommy? Some may feel that the style of dress is not age appropriate for the child doll but that’s more an issue of bad parenting than racism.

Is it the afro the boy is sporting? There’s nothing wrong with growing an afro, unless you’re truly racist and you think its “primitive” or unprofessional. Is it because he’s dressed in basketball gear? Basketball is a great sport and it keeps kids active and healthy.

Maybe it’s the advertising on the packaging that talks about “the hair show”, or the fact that the doll is called “Sis”. First of all, hair shows are fun! Secondly, what’s wrong with the doll being called “Sis”? It’s short for sister or “sista” and it’s a term of endearment within the black community. I asked him if he would rather the box read “bitch” or “ripper” (it’s a Bay area thang). I got no response on that. Is it because there’s no Kenyan in the picture? (See what I did there?)

During the (kinda heated) discussion on facebook the original poster listed off a whole bunch of stereotypes about other ethnic groups in America and asked if I would be okay with them being represented by a doll, all because I wasn’t perturbed by this one. Something about “a Mexican doll with her pet donkey” and “an Asian doll with a nail kit”. Therein lies the crux of the matter – by his logic, the black Barbie would have to be standing there with a minimum of four kids, hitting a crack pipe, and eating some watermelon that she payed for with her EBT card. Do you see my point? The average Mexican girl in America doesn’t have a pet donkey and the average Asian girl in America doesn’t do nails, but the average African American girl dresses and styles her hair according to the latest trends – there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, and it’s not even exclusive to black girls. Toy manufacturers with a target demographic make sales by putting out a variety of products and the products have to reflect modern culture. Period.

Whether this picture is racist or not is subjective, made obvious by the varied responses I read through. This discussion and how upset some people seemed was troubling to me and I couldn’t figure out why. After I thought about it for a while I realized that I was disturbed by people’s comments about the doll being “too ghetto”. Really? What classifies as ghetto? And what about “ghetto” do people find so inherently bad? The dolls are  just one representation of many.

What say you? Chime in with a vote and tell me what you think about this image and why!


It’s Not as Illogical as It Sounds

*This was purely a blog site before I purchased my web domain on wordpress. It was called “Tentatively Black” and I’m going to leave this here because the message still rocks.*

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to name my blog and I eventually settled on “Tentatively Black” because I knew that people would find it alarming and questionable. But let me explain:

The definition of the word “tentative” implies uncertainty and a sense of unknowing. I’m not unsure of whether I’m black or not, I have eyes and they work just fine, great even! But the verdict is still out on what it means to BE black, or any other ethnicity for that matter. My upbringing in a white foster home has laid the groundwork for many discussion topics that I address in my book (the title is tentative btw). However, the older I get, the more I realize that the lens through which I filter my experiences in the world doesn’t always have to be black, or white, or atheist, or Christian, or speckled with dirt. I have experienced a plethora of other things in life that have nothing to do with race. They are merely experiences that I was meant to have as a human being so that I could retrieve the soul lessons – karmic lessons, if you will.

I’m gravitating daily toward the notion that my experience here as a SPIRIT  is much greater than my experience as a human – a black girl – a black girl who was abandoned by her birth family – a black girl who was raised by white people – a black girl who got pregnant and quit college – a black girl who battled with depression – a girl who nearly lost the battle – a black girl who was Atheist for a little while – a black woman who let her child go far away – a black woman who fought her way back – a black woman who found her faith and spirituality – a black woman who regained her passion for life and the pursuit of her dreams.

What would happen if we fiddled around with that list a bit? What if we crossed some things out and replaced them with something else?

“a black girl who was abandoned by her birth family” becomes “a Mexican boy who was abandoned by his birth family”

“a black girl who was Atheist for a little while” becomes “a Muslim woman who was Christian for a little while”

“a black woman who found her faith and spirituality” becomes “a condemned man who found his peace and spirituality”

Every experience, good or bad, in this life is a variable with the exception of the spirit. The core of a persons being is forever and never changing, it’s the highest and truest self. We’re here as human beings to have these human experiences so that we can use the wisdom we gain to seek out our core. It’s often buried beneath the ego, shrouded in the memories of pain from the past and unfavorable circumstances of the present. The more we forgive ourselves and others of the past the more serenely we exist in the present, and the more effortlessly we flow in to the future. That’s not to say that difficult experiences will not still arise but we will know how to respond and overcome with grace.

The title of this blog is not a slap in the face to fellow black people. It’s me humbling myself and acknowledging the fact that black is not ALL that I am and that it doesn’t define how I’m “supposed to” think, act, believe, speak, or exist. It’s a statement. A testament to the fact that I am more than what the human eye can process. And so are you 😀