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Is Mattel’s Black Barbie Offensive?

Submitted by on October 4, 2009 – 3:58 pm9 Comments


Mattel‘s new and improved black Barbie line was introduced this week, and is being criticized by some African American girls as going too far with its associated hip hop accessories.

The New York Daily News showed off the new “So In Style” trio of dolls – Grace, Kara and Trichelle – to several girls to get some feedback. The consensus was that there was too much “hip-hop” on the doll.

Not all black people like hip hop,” said Barbara Mootoo, 15, of Manhattan, looking at Kara’s silver rope chain necklace. “They gave her a chain like a 50 Cent video.”

Tyaine Danclaire, 15, of the Bronx, liked Trichelle’s straight, long hair because it looked like “a weave,” but she thought the idea “was sorta racist.”

They say black girls are ghetto with the gold earrings, with the big bling; I don’t agree with that,” she said. [Eurweb]

All good points. So, I must ask — is it uncool to be hip-hop now? Jay-Z doesn’t run rap anymore, he’s runs the map, Drake is an actor, acting like a rapper and his partner-in-rhyme likes to kiss his daddy. The list goes on. While black kids now have dolls with “authentic-looking facial features” – do these Beyonc√© Barbies reinforce certain stereotypes?

Here’s what Nikki Wright, 12, of East Harlem had to say:

They look like people where we live,” the seventh-grader told the Daily News. “I wear big earrings. The weave. Things that we use.”

What do YOU think? Are these Barbies offensive or have we grown increasingly sensitive when it comes to issues of race and beauty? Check out this video below and share your thoughts in the comments section:

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  • AHLOT says:

    I think they’re cute. When I was a kid, I had tons of Barbies and honestly, there was no individuality. If Barbie had on a suit, Christina and Theresa (the Latina and African American version) wore the same suit in a different color. I think its cool.

    I call myself “AHLOT” but, it’s not that deep. The intention of this doll, was to reflect another side of the African American Community that wasn’t being displayed at Mattel.

    In the words of Eli, they “deed it.” I like it. If you want an African American career Barbie, go get one. They are out there.

    BTW, it’s not like they had “baby-momma” Barbie. This collection places an emphasis on the arts, progressive hobbies and creativity.

    I think it’s dope.

  • Pamprincess555 says:

    Really like these dolls. I like the different tones and styles of each doll. Besides, if the clothes are too urban for some, theres a whole line of barbie clothes you can buy. Also, there are sophistcated collector Barbies for those who feel offended, like the new 2009 Holiday. People act like theres something wrong with urban. I do both urban wear and sophisticated depending on my mood. Anyway, will buy one for my baby girl.

  • ~*aShLeY*~ says:

    im mad they had light skinned girls all i the commerical…its like if u gone do it black, do it all the way black, looked like asian chix in the commercial…&& when i was on another website it said they come with a “little sister” doll i guess like Barbie has Kelley, the little ones had like blue and green eyes, like wtf?? they need to let me make some barbie dolls…they got the right idea…but needs some work…

  • T. Dantzler-Davis says:

    I saw the video of the creator speaking on the purpose and her mission to stay true to what we see in our community. I like her message and was impressed by the concept of what these dolls represent to other girls. Good work.

  • rwr. says:

    i thought it was cute and a good idea is if they made mexican dolls, puteo rican, carribean lol

  • lilpink says:

    I think the dolls do not reflect all black people. One girl could have had curly hair. They all have long, blonde weave. I connected more with Christie, who had curly, black hair and darker skin. I have no idea what this designer was thinking making all the dolls look like that and then dressing them in seductive clothing. I think the dolls look more representative of video girls than Black America. I think though it is a good start.

  • Dee says:

    y deos eveyone take this shite seriously…its a fucking barbie doll….grow up!!!!!

  • Mya says:

    If you don’t like it…don’t buy it. They have every career barbie out there. who sais you HAVE to buy the black one…

  • Brianna Elizabeth Alston! says:

    I HATE the new barbie and i am a “black” girl myself. I am not in any way racist I have african american besties and my boyfriend is “black” i hate that word so i put it in quotations. The new barbie to me symbolizes evry “black” girl to be stereotypical and its not cool. I loved playing with barbies when i was a kid up until my 7th grade year of school. I have every different race of them. I hate the parent who wanted her child to play with the “black” one because she was “black” its racist. I have all types of friends and barbies. and just to mention I have been this race all my life and i do not have one stitch of Roca-wear in my closet. nor do i have a wide nose or big lips. really people. yea everyone is different, but yall just made the dolls look ghetto. it isnt cute!

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