New Documentary Celebrates Black Dolls

Samantha Knowles explores the significance of Black dolls on Black children's self-image with new film.

Posted: 02/07/2013 12:12 PM EST

Christie, My Buddy, Kenya and Addy: These are the names of Black dolls some African-American adults may remember tugging around in their childhood years.

Samantha Knowles was one of those girls and thought it was normal to be a Black girl with Black dolls, until a play date with a white friend changed her mind forever.

“Why do you have Black dolls?” Knowles’ friend asked her. At 22, she is finally answering the question with a new documentary that explores how Black dolls impact Black girls’ self-image.

Why Do You Have Black Dolls? is the Brooklyn-based filmmaker’s debut and has been accepted at five film festivals. Knowles interviewed more than 20 doll makers and historians in the film.

The Daily News reports:

“These Black dolls provide a positive representation of Black women and men to the children that play with them,” she says. “In these dolls, children see a reminder of their own beauty.”

In the film, 6-year-old Emily Forrester and her friends illustrate Knowles’ message as they play with their dolls in a Queens apartment.

“She had curly hair just like me, so I picked this doll,” says Forrester. “I have Black dolls because they are pretty and everyone likes Black dolls.”

Knowles was surprised to discover a small but passionate community that creates and collects Black dolls.

 “I learned a lot about the making of Black dolls,” she says. “Instead of going to Walmart and buying dolls, many women are making their own dolls to look like their mothers and sisters. These dolls sell anywhere from $20 to thousands of dollars, but their true value is in the creation process.”

Read the full story here.

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(Photo: Facebook/WhyDoYouHaveBlackDolls)

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