Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A doll like me

The Haiku prompt for this week at One Deep Breath is for the "unseen". I have been writing haiku pretty much every day for the past two months, but haven't posted as much lately. I am reading all the other poets that post at One Deep Breath and trying to keep up with their themes though, and finding it a good exercise and stimulus.

Today I am following my theme of late; seeing the world through my Black son's eyes. I read about this film at Light-skinned girl's blog and watched it the other day. Back before Brown Vs. the Board of Education Dr. Kenneth Clark conducted a study to see what children would say about dolls with brown and black skin compared to dolls with pinkish, peach skin. I read about this study 25 years ago when I was in college, as I am sure many of you did. Kiri Davis, a high school student, decided to try to repeat the same study last year for a film project she was working on. The children in her study show that the messages about beauty, goodness and white skin vs. badness, ugliness and black skin are still being absorbed by today's small children. Where do they get these messages? Surely no adult directly tells them that. It's in the air and water? It's on TV and in the movies and music? It's on the evening news? In their picture books? In their Happy Meals? Don't get me started.

Kohana posted recently about trying to find a brown skinned doll for her son to play with in preparation for their new baby. She looked high and low and couldn't find one. It reminded me about how when Buster, my white oldest son was a toddler I made him a rag doll for Christmas. I had this lovely soft brown brushed cotton material so although I was using the classic Raggedy Ann pattern I made his doll brown skinned and black haired. We lived with an African American mother and child at the time so it actually fit right in with our mixed-race household. That doll became known as "Buddy Boy" for my second son, and he has just about loved it to tatters. I am planning on making a new one for him and Punkin for this Christmas and I will be looking for just the right soft brown fabric. Yesterday at Buddy's daycare I happened to look in the doll cradle in the housekeeping corner and saw nothing but white babies. I wonder if it would be appropriate for me to gift the center with some brown babydolls this holiday season?

October 31 Haiku: Unseen

his preschool classroom-
jumbled in the doll cradle
all pink, blond and blue


Joy ~ aka Wild Child said...

Awwww, Buddy boy was just waiting for your second son to join your family. I think it's a great idea for you to gift some brown babydolls to your child care center. Good idea!

Catherine said...

It would be interesting to try that experiment in New Zealand. Certainly our race relations aren't perfect, but I'm not sure if the results would be the same. The rag doll is lovely.

paris parfait said...

Wonderful haiku about an important subject. Well done, you!

Anonymous said...

you made me wanna show of mine! This is such memories of my own doll my mom made for me. cool. :)

Larry Kollar said...

Yeah, where do those messages come from? Lord knows I tried to raise my Daughter Dearest without presumptions of gender roles, but she found them anyway. 'Course, she would put on the frilly pink dress and then go play football with her cousins… so maybe it wasn't a complete waste. :-P

Roswila said...

Very effective. IMHO, haiku/haiga work best when they show, not tell. You clearly show here. It's also rare (at least in my readings of haiku) to find race looked at. And this is an important issue. Thanks!