A Harlem mother frustrated by the lack of dolls of color in the popular Barbie toy line is leading a charge with other moms. Karen Braithwaite and a group of 14 mothers have launched a petition demanding toy manufacturer Mattel increase the number of Black dolls and related material in its vast lineup.
DNAInfo reports that Braithwaite, 40, was trying to plan an upcoming Barbie-themed birthday party for her four-year-old daughter, Georgia. Although her daughter already owned Black Barbie dolls, trying to find other products in the line that featured Black girls and women was scarce. Finding only white dolls with blond hair and blue eyes, Braithwaite and the mothers have banded together in response.
“When I was growing up, black Barbies were hard to find,” said Braithwaite remarking on her own past. “Here we are 40 years later and still dealing with the same thing.”
Braithwaite acknowledged that the company has addressed the dearth of Black dolls before, with Mattel introducing a full lineup in 2009. Still, that gesture fell short of expectations.
“They already make tons of black Barbies targeted and marketed to black girls,” Braithwaite said. “I can’t imagine there isn’t a market for the party supplies.”
Using Change.org, the Harlem mothers have already amassed over 2,500 signatures for the petition urging Mattel to expand its market to young girls of color.
“Barbie represents a positive image of a confident young woman who is fashionable, who can be anything from a fairy, to a doctor, to an astronaut,” reads a line from the petition. “Barbies of color represent all these things to young girls of color, and the Barbie theme is a very popular birthday party theme.”
Braithwaite’s petition is gaining serious nationwide traction, although a response from Mattel has yet to materialize.
Watch the video for to the Change.org petition below.
YouTube: Jeff Mays/DNAInfo