Last year, I got excited about a doll. My daughter and I both enjoy American Girl dolls, so I periodically check the blogs to find out what’s coming up. There was a rumor that American Girl was planning an African-American doll as their Girl of the Year 2010 because the author of her book, Jane Kurtz often writes about black characters, even though she is white. I was thrilled that they’d have another named doll that might look like my daughter. On the site Doll Diaries, AG fans gushed about how much they’d love to see a black doll. It was about time, many said. The only named black doll is Addy, a Civil War era doll, with few accessories. It’s as if Mattel thinks that is the only time period in African-American history worth talking about. A girl of the year (GOTY) would come with books, accessories, and she’d be a limited-edition doll. The excitement was palpable. In late December, AG announced their planned GOTY doll. It was another blonde.
Now, it’s not just that I’m disappointed. I am. And it’s not just that I think the company is perpetrating a racist policy. I do. The thing that really got to me was the lack of reaction. On the Doll Diaries site, many fans oohed and aahed over the new doll, but where were the girls who were so excited about her being black just days before? There was only one comment in nearly a thousand where a girl expressed her disappointment, and she was quickly shut down by another girl who reminded her that one of the previous GOTY dolls was Hispanic. Fortunately, someone wisely informed that poster that being Hispanic and being African-American are two different things, and that in ten years of doing GOTY dolls, AG had no excuse for the omission. But that was the end of the discussion.
Now this is just a doll. However, the silence makes me wonder what we’re teaching our children. We are in the midst of a never-ending war. No one seems to be really outraged by this. We are in an economic crisis, and yet the people who caused that crisis (off the backs of working people, mind you) got six-figure bonuses this month, and everyone’s just going about their day. Are we teaching our children that injustice is something to be silent about?