Holiday Shopping: Black Barbie, Latino Barbie, or White Barbie?

Greenwood is a neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the early 20th century it became known as America’s “Black Wall Street” because it was one of the most wealthy and successful black communities in the United States before the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. One night, I was searching the internet and somehow I began researching The Tulsa Star, Greenwood’s version of the Wall Street Journal. As I stumbled upon old copies of the The Tulsa Star, I found an interesting article entitled: COLORED DOLLS, WHY NOT? Considering the holiday season is upon us, many people of color are currently buying or looking for dolls/barbies for their children.

This article from January 29, 1921 (almost 95 years ago) touches on the touchy holiday subject of whether to buy a Black barbie, Latino barbie, or a White Barbie?


“WE HAVE READ quite a little of the man who declared that his child should learn to play with Colored dolls. It was an idea pressed in upon the same father would never think of deciding to purchase nothing but the same father would never think of deciding to purchase nothing but colored clothing, colored animals, or even colored furnishings. The color prejudice gave rise in his mind to the propriety of worshiping some color other than white, exclusively. Hence, the colored doll for his child.

The subtle propaganda of the white race has found rich soil and today it is fashionable to worship the color selected by the Caucasian. The Colored Races have been victimized to a great extent. Almost universally, we find the picture of Christ painted as white, although he was a Jew, and certainly not all Jews are white in color. The predominating hue for the Jew is too dark to be called white. The Japanese do not pretend to be anything but yellow, yet he is taught by the Caucasian that all things pertaining to Christianity, religion and modern civilization is white.

We have become slaves to the white color as applied to human beings. All kinds of powders, paints and false skins are made to create white impressions. We have discarded all other colors for the human family. Everybody must be white to be popular. And why?

We are not thus enslaved about inanimate things. Black horses are considered the most beautiful. Black gowns for ladies are quite the thing for high occasions. Red feathers for hats, and brown goods for wear all find a popular demand. But when we speak or think of a human being, we at once swear that he or she must be white.

It is a matter of cultivation. When we learn to prove some other color, we shall love it devotedly. It is the sign of common sense to teach the child to grow fond of dolls which possess a color like that of the child. The innocent child at play with her dolls almost instinctly fondles them as her children, styling herself the mother. Under our present system of race marriages, it is perfectly normal and rational to expect the child to resemble the parent. Like mother,

Who knows but what we need to cultivate the colored doll in order to instill in the mind of the little girls that colored mothers are as virtuous as white mothers, and that colored children are as much God’s handiwork as white children. Suppose we take a few lessons in colors.”

– Pittsburgh Courier.

The Tulsa Star – January 29, 1921 by Reed Law