Serena Williams introduces daughter, Olympia, to Black dolls

Alexis Olympia Ohanian, daughter of celebrated tennis champion Serena Williams, plays with colored doll, it has been revealed.

The 15-month-old baby is seen at her playground with her Black, hairless doll lying face down on the floor.

Serena is a Black American sportswoman married to a White American internet entrepreneur, Alexis Ohanian.

In general, dolls come in mostly White/pink shade; and in the Slavery Era, children of slaves could only play with dolls the colour of their skin, which was mostly Black.

Historically, an African-American minister and businessman, Richard Henry Boyd, who was born into slavery in the state of Mississippi, founded the National Negro Doll Company in 1911 after he tried to purchase dolls for his children but could find none that were not gross caricatures of African Americans.

According to Wiki, American companies began including Black dolls in their doll lines in the early 1900s. And between 1910 and 1930, Horsman, Vogue, and Madame Alexander included Black dolls in their doll lines.

Gradually, other American companies followed suit, a Wiki citation says.

Much later, Wiki states, an African American entrepreneur, Beatrice Wright Brewington, founded B. Wright’s Toy Company, Inc., and mass-produced Black dolls with ethnically-correct features.

She also instructed girls in the art of making dolls in 1955.

To honour the history of Black dolls, in 2012, three sisters — Debra Britt, Felicia Walker and Tamara Mattison — opened the National Black Doll Museum of History and Culture in Mansfield, Massachusetts.

It features over 6,000 Black dolls, with a mission “to nurture the self-esteem of children and preserve the legacy of Black dolls.”

Roughly 1,000 Black dolls are also on view at the Philadelphia Doll Museum, which was founded by Barbara Whiteman, Wiki says.

Perhaps shedding light on why Olympia’s parents, Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian, opted for a coloured doll for their baby, Black doll enthusiast, Debbie Behan Garrett, who also authored Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion, says: “I’m emphatic about a black child having a doll that reflects who she is.”

“When a young child is playing with a doll, she is mimicking being a mother, and in her young, impressionable years, I want that child to understand that there’s nothing wrong with being black.

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“If Black children are force-fed that White is better, or if that’s all that they are exposed to, then they might start to think, ‘What is wrong with me?’” Garrett added.

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