Under Pressure From Civil Rights Activists, Amazon Discounts Caucasian “Little Mommy Play All Day” Dolls Over Black, Latino Ones
Amazon.com is raising eyebrows after discounting a white version of a popular children’s doll to a price far below that of its black and Latino counterparts. The move comes after a similar case last year drew outrage from civil rights activists. In that instance, Walmart was accused of racism for selling black Barbie dolls at half the cost of white ones. Liberal critics claimed that the retail chain was engaging in a discriminatory practice and the story made headlines across the nation. A lengthy investigation by MSNBC followed and Walmart settled the dispute by reversing its policies on racialist doll pricing.
The particular product now in question is no stranger to controversy. In 2008, another toy in Fischer Price’s bestselling “Little Mommy” doll series caused an international stir. Fox News broke the story after concerned parents noticed the “Little Mommy Cuddle ’n Coo” toy spoke the phrase, “Islam is the Light.” Some speculated that Muslim workers at the manufacturer’s Asian factories had improperly tampered with the doll’s voice box programming, but the origins of the strange diatribe were never discovered. To make matters worse, London’s Daily Mail newspaper followed up with a report that Cuddle ’n Coo also whispered “Satan is King” to toddlers. Kmart and other chains quickly pulled the item from their shelves.
The current “Little Mommy Play All Day Doll” is described in marketing material as a “designed for use by young children with smaller hands.” It is created with, “lifelike details such as bright, colorful eyes and a small pink mouth enhance the play experience and provide an appropriate foundation upon which your young child can begin to develop a healthy imagination.” Yet many wonder why a toy aimed at cultivating a “healthy imagination” in young girls would be used to spread such a culturally insensitive view.
“This absolutely sends the wrong message to today’s kids,” Tyson Bowers III, a cultural analyst and Christian author, has noted. “They’re implying that whiteness is somehow worth less than blackness. It’s a classic case of reverse discrimination and standard practice for liberal activists. Amazon needs to be far more sensitive to the American public when it comes to its pricing choices.”
Amazon.com has yet to respond to the criticism but many wonder if a misguided sense of multiculturalism is behind the unusual price structure. Indeed, the move may be an attempt to head off another Walmart-style scandal by promoting ethnic pride in America’s minority communities. It is unclear whether this will backfire as more and more Caucasian consumers voice their outrage. The scandal has echoes of the Cabbage Patch debates of the 1980s. Adoption advocacy groups at the time accused Coleco, the creator of Cabbage Patch Kids, of trivializing transracial adoption with their line of “adoptable” toys. One analyst later wrote, “What does the commodification of make-believe human characteristics say about the adoption of real children who come from real families instead of cabbage patches? Can we separate fact from fantasy?”
The issue of artificially inflated prices for minority Little Mommy Play All Day Dolls isn’t sitting well with some black consumers either. One visitor to Amazon’s site posted an enraged review that states, “Why are the african american dolls more expensive on amazon???? Like 40% more…….I am a huge fan of amazon- but this makes me want to stop shopping through amazon…..”