Harlem Moms Launch Petition Urging Mattel to Offer More Ethnically Diverse Merchandise

Karen Braithwaite received a harsh wake-up call when she attempted to coordinate a Barbie-themed birthday party for her daughter, Georgia. Although her daughter owns several Black Barbies, Karen reveals that she had the most difficult time finding Barbie-themed plates, cups, banners and decorations that didn’t depict the blue-eyed, blonde-haired Barbie.

“When I was growing up, black Barbies were hard to find. Here we are 40 years later and still dealing with the same thing,” Braithwaite told DNA Info.

“The message they are sending when they [Mattel] exclude black Barbies is that blonde hair and blue eyes are the ideal,” Braithwaite went on to say of Mattel’s lack diversity.

Following her experience, Braithwaite has organized a group of fourteen mothers and more than 2,500 Change.org petitioners who are urging Mattel to provide more accessories and merchandise that feature more Barbies of color. A portion of the petition reads:

“Young girls of color need positive images of themselves reflected back to them in popular culture, the media, and their daily lives. Mattel already offers a wide selection of dolls of different races and ethnicities–which simply begs the question: Why not give young girls of color the option of seeing and celebrating that same diversity when it comes to celebrating themselves?”

The 40-year-old mom also revealed that after combing more than 35 party supply stores, all she found was a tablecloth and stickers depicting a Black Babrie.

“They already make tons of black Barbies targeted and marketed to Black girls. I can’t imagine there isn’t a market for the party supplies,” she said.

Mattel spokesperson, Alan Hilowitz has since responded to the petition in an email to DNA Info.

“Barbie has represented more than 45 different nationalities and is sold in 150 countries. In fact, Mattel’s first African-American doll was introduced in 1968 — as Barbie doll’s friend Christie — and since then there have been numerous additional African-American dolls. We work closely with various partners to develop and distribute Barbie-themed products, such as party supplies, and we will be sharing this valuable feedback with them to start conversations and evaluate the business. We listen carefully to our consumers and take all feedback seriously.”


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