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Toys And The Racial Divide

May 24, 2008
Did you know that there used to be a Crayola crayon that was called 'flesh'? They changed the name in 1962 to 'peach' in recognition of the fact that not everybody's skin color is the same. This was quite probably a fairly reasonable step to take, but there are occasions when, looking at toys that are available today, and that used to be available, you have to ask the question - have toy manufacturers gone mad with political correctness?

Go into any toy shop and you will see an equal mix of races amongst the dolls on offer - Caucasian, African, Asian, all available of course in both male and female. I haven't yet seen a cross dressing Barbie or a gay Ken, but just wait - they'll be along one day, I'm almost sure of it.

Of course, toy manufacturers have two points to bear in mind. The first is, naturally, marketability. If all dolls were Caucasian, then it may quite possibly be that a significant proportion of the potential market would feel that they were not being catered for, and would choose something else instead. But toy manufacturers are also very aware of the impression that they give children, and the responsibility which comes with providing images, concepts and potential stereotypes which could encourage conflict, misunderstanding and divide.

To what extent the manufacturers consider these two points is hard to tell, although my money would be that their chief concern is for the former of the two points, with the latter being given more consideration by the legal and marketing departments.

And yet, let us think about this. If white children are only provided with white dolls, and black children with black dolls, does this really cater for a multicultural society, or is this not engendering a greater divide? Would it not make more sense for all children, regardless of race, to have a mixture of both black and white dolls? Surely the experience of caring for a doll of another color is more likely to encourage familiarity, concern, care and acceptance than if the groups are divided as though by a wall - a wall which can only grow taller and more impenetrable as the child grows into an adult, dragging behind them all their stereotypes, familiar concepts and prejudices.

Sometimes it seems as though the very prejudices and preconceptions we seek to overthrow as a society are fostered and encouraged, albeit unintentionally, through tradition, ignorance, and toy manufacturers catering for all separate and distinct parts of our multicultural society.

Perhaps the onus is on us, as consumers and parents, but ask yourself - would you buy your child dolls or figurines of other races? Or has the thought simply not occurred to you? Perhaps this is the crux of the problem, and we simply haven't caught on to the opportunities we are being presented with.

Then again, it might all simply be a marketing scam. It's hard to tell really. Perhaps the toy manufacturers are behind the complexities of our society and are really the driving forces behind the development of society. Or they might just be making crayons, boggle eyed teddies and gloop.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant about kids toys, dolls, and video games. You will find the best marketplace for kids toys, dolls, and used video games at these sites for kids toys, dolls, figurines, dolls, and used video games.
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