Recently, New York mom Karen Greene Braithwaite was faced with the challenge of giving her young daughter a Barbie-themed birthday party. Karen had no problems with the guest list or deciding which treats to serve, her difficulties arose when she tried to find an African-American version of the brand's party supplies. Unable to find what was looking for, she started a petition asking Mattel to include images of color in their line of party goods (Barbie Petition).
When I posted a link to Karen's survey on the Facebook page for Brown Girl Collective, all of the response was positive, with one exception: One person felt that the petition was "stupid," since Barbie is "just a doll." As an African-American woman who grew up with dolls that looked like me and a one-time collector of Black dolls, I beg to differ. Just as it is important for young girls to see positive images of Black women in the media, it is equally important that they have "brown" images in the books that they read, the toys that they play with and the plates, cups and balloons that are displayed at their birthday parties.