Friday, August 7, 2009

Her Name Is Orange Blossom, Dammit.

By now, most of my faithful MyBrownBaby readers know that I make a living from my writing; for almost two decades, most every article/column/essay/book I've pushed out of my MAC has helped feed, clothe, and sustain my family. But I don't just write to get paid; indeed, writing to me is an art--a creative, cathartic outlet that allows me to sketch and paint and color thoughtful prose I hope makes people really think about the human condition, and all the ways we affect it, especially when it comes to the exploration of my culture and my people. As a woman, a wife, and a mom of two girl pies, I'm also pretty passionate about issues that specifically speak to the plight of my gender.

It is this that I had in mind when I answered the call to be a contributor at The Frog's Legs, a fantastic new site founded by writer/blogger Diana Prichard, aimed at helping parents raise strong, independent, free-thinking, brilliant little girls. Of course, I bring my own "colorful" twist to the mix; my first post explores why Strawberry Shortcake's brown friend, Orange Blossom, deserves more props, and why brown girls need brown dolls. Check it:

I promise you, it wasn’t meant to be a “gotcha” kind of question. I simply wanted to know the name of Strawberry Shortcake’s new friend, a cute chocolate girl who didn’t exist back in the 70s, when I was a kid. Cyber-tap me on the shoulder if you think I was out of pocket for asking, but really, I thought it was something a PR rep pushing press packets into my hand would, well, know. Alas, she hadn’t a clue what the black character’s name was. In fact, she seemed confused and confounded by my inquiry.

And that’s what got my goat.

It just didn’t seem to occur to this woman, who presumably wanted me to purchase something from her—in this case, tickets to the new Strawberry Shortcake movie and, perhaps, a few movie tie-in toys—that there might be a rapt audience for Strawberry’s little brown friend. That, in some houses, the illustrious, rosy-cheeked, pale-skinned Strawberry might actually play second fiddle to her black sidekick.

Want to read the rest? Go to And if you're so moved, please show your support for fierce, independent little girls by leaving a comment, becoming a The Frog's Legs follower, and making a point of visiting often.

Happy weekend!

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  1. how cute!

    (but where is the companion site for mommies of boys? it's hard teaching the munchkin to pee standing up! lol)

    i am constantly amazed (and inspired) by your ability to grind creatively. i wanna be like you when i grow up, D.

  2. Dolls are a lovely way for little girls to connect with (and love) their future, grown up selves. I think you're absolutely right when you say "brown girls need brown dolls."

    Kudos to Orange Blossom!

  3. I've had the gamut of dolls and I definitely had a Strawberry Shortcake in the 80s, in fact I had all of them in the series. But my most beloved dolls were my brown My Child dolls and my brown Cabbage Patch, I also had a Cabbage Patch with red hair that was kind of tan that I always thought was black, heck she looked like one of my cousins! LOL!

    I have a boy (and will have another one soon) so I'd like him to see toys that look like him as well. I think it's sad that most of the toys for boys that are representative of people are associated with violence, GI Joe, Superhero toys, etc. Maybe if boys played with toys that were more representative of actual men, they'd be able to explore what it truly means to be a man (or what they think it is to be a man) and maybe that would cross over into adulthood. Why isn't their a daddy doll or a doctor, lawyer, garbage man, teacher guy doll for boys to play with?

  4. it is funny but i thought orange bloom was out in the 80's when i was growing up. I too think it is important to put more stuff out there for little girls that is why i created www.myfroggy but don't worry moms of little boys I have too.

  5. So true. And, as the mom of two warriors, looking forward to checking out!

  6. Why doesn't it occur to people in communications (TV, cinema, pr, marketing, web sites, etc...) that people of color want to see
    themselves reflected in the mainstream media they produce? The baseline standard is the pale skin and we are just supposed to accept that. Oh, and the minority sidekick is so played out. I am waiting for the black doll who is center stage (and not a Bratz!)... a girl like Dora, who every child will relate to.

  7. I was going to write a post similar to this about Disney. I do not like that my choices are so limited when it comes to toys for my nieces. We were supposed to get Orange Blossom dolls at BlogHer and she never materialized. I don't mind buying dolls and pink things for my nieces but why do the top toys not come in any other ethnicities? Can't Hannah have a few black girlfriends?

  8. I'm the mother of four beautiful children. I have two boys and two girls. I totally agree with wanting more choices in ethnic toys for my children.

    I tend not to buy caucasin dolls. I buy dolls with brown skin even if it's a Barbie, and I'm not too fond of them. I am fond of Cabbage Patch Kids and I always get the black dolls. My daughters did get the Bratz fever, and they have almost every Bratz doll you can imagine. Everytime a special ocassion came around whether it was a Birthday or Graduation they requested Bratz.

    Hopefully we'll get popular ethnic dolls/ toys that will dominate the industry in the near future.

  9. My best friend from childhood is black and when we were about four years old (back in the early 70s) there was some doll -- don't even remember the name, but it was a baby doll type doll, not a Barbie-type doll -- and it was THE toy to have. Her mom searched high & low to get the black version. we lived in Orange County and I think she ended up finding it in LA. At the time my friend & I didn't understand why it was so important for her mom to get her this doll, but now that we're grown-ups we definitely do.

  10. I remember my mom and my dad get into it one Christmas about my gift. He had purchased a standard Barbie doll for me and my mom threw a fit because she said that I cannot have any more white dolls and he was not allowed to bring one into the house again.

    That Barbie was expeditiously replaced with a black Little Mermaid doll the next day. Even though I think he still got it because her hair texture was not believable.

    Now in my mid 20s, I understand what the big fuss was about and I'm sure my future husband and I will have the same discussion.


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