Saturday, August 20, 2011

Frustrating, To Say The Least: A White Mama (of Two Brown Girls) Rant & Suggestions

Birthday cards at Wal-Mart. All the kids are white!

Barbie dolls at Kohl's----the only brown doll was a Princess Tiana doll.

I know people like to say they are colorblind, or that race doesn't matter, or that the world is a melting pot. Those are all really fluffy, happy-go-lucky, Utopian ideas. Because every time I go to buy my girls a toy, or a t-shirt, or a greeting card for their birthdays, I get frustrated all over again. Where are the items for brown kids? Yes, besides the ONE Princess Tiana birthday card. (Though I do appreciate that Disney FINALLY had an AA Princess, my daughter can hardly watch most of the movie because of all the demonic, scary scenes). (I recommend checking out some of my readers' comments here).

My dear friend adopted an AA boy last fall. She has tried to find him an AA boy doll. I did some hunting for her, and all I could find was a $70 Cabbage Patch Doll. Ridiculous!

It's also frustrating that there aren't many popular AA characters beyond Princess Tiana. There are a few shows like Little Bill (featuring an AA boy) or Dora (featuring a Hispanic girl and boy), but most of the time, any AA characters (in kids' films or adult films) are sidekicks---usually the "cool black" person who supports the white hero.

Seems like I have to dig and dig and dig (literally, through shelves of items at a store) to find AA toys, cards, etc. And most of the time (I guess good for my piggy bank...) the items are in clearance (because they don't sell?). Several times, I've had items custom made for my girls, like their Christmas stockings.

What can you do to help your child of color?

1: Buy toys, clothing items, and cards (in advance if you have to---like this matching game I got my girls when I found it in clearance for $5! at a specialty toy shop) of items that feature people who look like them.

2: Support companies that sell items that feature kids of all colors. Some of my favorite companies (selected items featured) include: Melissa and Doug, EEBoo (see matching game in item 1), CP Toys, Hallmark, & Cracker Barrel. Here's a previous blog post with more links. I also recommend searching Etsy. Many sellers, like this one, will custom make items to your specifications---including skin tone and hair color. I have found Etsy sellers to generally be very accommodating and supportive. In the past, Pottery Barn jewelry boxes came with a white ballerina and a brown ballerina, allowing the buyer to choose the featured girl. :) This company claims to have the biggest selection of AA books. You can also search this site.

3: Write a short e/m of appreciation to companies that sell items that feature kids who look like yours. Carter's has consistently featured children of all races on their clothing lines.

4: Write a short e/m to companies you love (I'm a Gymboree fan) that need to do a better job featuring kids of all colors. Tell them you love their products, but they need to do a better job representing children of all races, not just white kids.

5: Suggest books and videos to your local library that feature characters of various races and history books that support your child's racial background.

6: Consider buying books and toys to donate to your library, your child's school, etc. that feature children of different races. Additionally, you can buy adoption books for these institutions.

(If you're a mother of white children, that doesn't mean you're off the hook. ;) Buy multi-racial items for them).

If you have more tips, favorite companies, etc., please leave a comment so my readers can benefit!


  1. We are a biracial family. My husband is caucasian and I am African American. My Mother-in-law ran into this problem at Christmas when trying to find my daughter a brown skin doll as a gift. I have dealt with this my whole life and it was very interesting to see her (my MIL) struggle to find something to reflect her grandchild's ethnicity. She was so angry that it was so hard....

  2. I'm a white mom of 2 AA boys and have had some trouble with this as well. I did find Gullah Gullah Island (reruns of the show from the 90's) is played on Nick Jr. and so was Little Bill so we increased our cable package just for those!

    I'm having trouble finding any art that I think is loving/uplifting and has black/white children in it. My soon-to-be 4 year old has just started mentioning skin color differences so ANY time I see a family that looks like ours I am quick to point it out! It's certainly hard to find books with a transracial family so I just use real life examples as I see them.


    They also have custom boy or girl dolls. Cute!

  4. Have you read/seen this book? Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighterby Dianne Ochilltree

    Thought of you when I saw it so thought I'd pass it on. :-)


Comments are moderated and published upon approval. Your thoughts and questions are also welcome via e-mail at whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com.