Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Raaaaacism Industrial Complex comes to Black Barbie’s rescue

For those of you not familiar with my blog, the Raaaaacism Industrial Complex is a phrase I coined for those individuals who go out of their way to find racism lurking under every stone or even manufacture racism out of think air (see Maureen Dowd).

Raaaaacism Industrial Complex member ABC News has come out to fight the evil intentions of that great foe Walmart who had the audacity to sell Black Barbie for 50% less than White Barbie at one of their stores!

When question about why Black Barbie was selling for 50% less at one of their stores, Walmart responded that it was a matter of making room for new inventory:
"To prepare for (s)pring inventory, a number of items are marked for clearance, " spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien said in an e-mail. "... Both are great dolls. The red price sticker indicates that this particular doll was on clearance when the photo was taken, and though both dolls were priced the same to start, one was marked down due to its lower sales to hopefully increase purchase from customers."
"Pricing like items differently is a part of inventory management in retailing," O'Brien said. 
For members of the Raaaaacism Industrial Complex, such an answer reeks of cover up and immediately requires further investigation. ABC News then heads off to find all those people who see raaaaacism in Walmart’s actions.  Enter Thelma Dye, the executive director of the Northside Center for Child Development: 
"The implication of the lowering of the price is that's devaluing the black doll," said Thelma Dye, the executive director of the Northside Center for Child Development, a Harlem, N.Y. organization founded by pioneering psychologists and segregation researchers Kenneth B. Clark and Marnie Phipps Clark.
"While it's clear that's not what was intended, sometimes these things have collateral damage," Dye said.
Other experts agree. Walmart could have decided "that it's really important that we as a company don't send a message that we value blackness less than whiteness," said Lisa Wade, an assistant sociology professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles and the founder of the blog Sociological Images. 
The ABC News article goes on like this for two and a half pages, with psychoanalysts, sociologists, and cultural analysts.  The one type of person ABC New did not bother to interview were economists.

After reading the story, I immediately consulted the Bureau of Labor Statistics and what did I find? Unemployment among whites is currently at 8.8% while unemployment among blacks is a staggering 15.8%!  Note, these figures do not include underemployment, which is sure to be higher. At 15.8% it would seem that there are a whole lot of black parents who simply cannot afford to buy their little girl a Barbie doll of any color!

So while ABC News and its analysts may want to look at that a 50% off sticker as a sign of devaluing black skin, I willing to bet there are a whole lot of black people out there who will look at that sticker as the difference between treating their daughter to a new Barbie doll or nothing at all.

By the way, ABC News has a video clip of an experiment where black children get to choose between a black doll and a white doll.

I would suggest to ABC News if they are going to conduct this experiment in the future, that they exclude mulatto children. Mulatto children obviously are going to have a mixed reaction since they can readily identify with both races and thus skew the results.  

For further reactions to the story, check out Left Coast Rebel and  My Thoughts on Freedom.


Writer X said...

Interesting. ABC News will go out of their way to put a reporting team in a Walmart to evaluate Barbie dolls but they're too busy to properly vet presidential candidates, specifically the Democratic ones?

american girl in italy said...

I just left a comment on LCR that I could argue I see it as an unfair advantage to little girls who want the white Barbie. Why do parents buying the White Doll have to pay more? They should have both been on sale.

I agree with your comments about the ABC show, and the Mulatto kids - although I still think it odd the kids considered the brown doll evil, even though they said they looked like the brown doll. The little boy that said they were both beautiful obviously has some great parents.

Reed said...

When I first read about the price difference between black and white Barbies, my first thought was that there has to be some rude and misogynistic joke that can be made, but damned if I can find it to make it.

The picture of the little girl reminded me of my youngest when she was little. Back in the day, we were poor, AFDC, because we were unskilled but going to school. It was her birthday, and we took her to K-Mart to pick out a doll; she very much wanted a new "baby." And it was purple. She loved the color purple, and this "baby" had a purple dress, and youngest daughter loved it, so we bought it, and carried it with her. The purple dress was on a black doll, a difference only adults noticed. We're a white family. What's that song from "South Pacific"?

Anonymous said...

I think Walmart missed an opportunity. They could have said "We are cutting prices on the black version of Barbie because, in our experience, economic downturns like we are experiencing now tend to fall disproportionately on black families, and we thought they needed a little extra help."

Janelle said...

This is ridiculous. A little fashion tip for Mattel.....guite a few blondes look great in blue and a lot of brunettes look great in pink and hot colors.

Clifton B said...

Writer X:

They have to do something to fill the void of their errors of omission.

Clifton B said...

American girl in Italy:

Economically you most certainly can make the case that those who buy the white doll are getting shafted.

Yes, I think that the Mulatto children's answers will definitely skew the results and did you notice ABC use quite a few of them?

Clifton B said...


Great story, thanks for sharing it. I noticed in the picture of the Barbie Dolls, that the black Barbie and the white Barbie are not wearing the exact same dress. Perhaps little girls like yours prefer the pink dress more than the blue dress, especially since pink is associated with girls at a very young age.

Clifton B said...


They could have said "We are cutting prices on the black version of Barbie because, in our experience, economic downturns like we are experiencing now tend to fall disproportionately on black families, and we thought they needed a little extra help."

We grew up poor and let me tell you, my parents would have welcomed the price reduction immediately.

Clifton B said...


I too wondered why Black Barbie has to wear a blue dress. Don't most little girls love pink?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the white Barbie contains more calories and is subject to the sugar tax, lest any of us stupid peasants are allowed choices.

Chris W said...

Thanks for the link, much appreciated.

Clifton B said...

Anonymous @1:52 pm

That was funny!

Clifton B said...

Chris W:

Any time Chris!

american girl in italy said...

the comments about the pink dress are quite perceptive. my favorite color is pink, and i didn't even think about it.

i think a lot of little girls would prefer the "pink" doll over the "blue". great point.

abc should have done a study about that - putting both white and black dolls in pink and blue dresses, and observe what happens. also, a blonde doll vs. a brunette....

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