American Girl, Your Slave Doll is a Big, Fat, Offensive FAIL

For about 2 months, my daughter has been begging for an American Girl doll. Knowing that they’re pretty expensive, I pushed the request to the back of my mind, thinking I’d put it under the Christmas tree as her “big” gift. Still, yesterday, I decided to go to the American Girl site to see just how much it would set me back and which doll I might get for my daughter.

I just knew that, in this day and age, there would have to be at least one or two dolls that look like my daughter and other little girls like her: smooth chocolate skin, beautiful features, etc.

So imagine my surprise and disgust when I discover this:

Yes. That is a black American Girl doll. Who is a slave. Wait. An “escaping” slave.

The headline of this post is so obvious that it should go without saying. But apparently, in some circles, it’s not entirely obvious that a slave doll wouldn’t be a good idea. So let me say it, in no uncertain terms.

A slave doll offensive. A slave doll is a bad idea!

Let me give this some context. This doll is part of the company’s historical character collection, which also features “resourceful”, “patriotic” and “optimistic” dolls of other races set in stories from centuries and decades past. And as I recently learned, Abby is not new. In fact, she has been on American Girl’s shelves for many years.

Here’s the problem. Of all the potential situations in which they could have set an African American doll in history, slavery was the best they could come up with? She couldn’t have been the daughter of someone like Elizabeth Jennings Graham, a black teacher in the 1800s who also won a civil rights case after she stood up for herself when being forced off a streetcar? An aspiring artist or poet during the Harlem Renaissance? Or for heavens sake, a child witnessing history being made during the Civil Rights movement? I could think of at least a dozen other possibilities off the top of my head with a more positive tone than the one the company chose.

I would sincerely like an explanation. Were there no objections to this doll throughout the planning and production processes?

Say what you want about the historical reality of slavery, because we all know it happened. However, there are plenty of other ways in which my daughter will learn about the atrocities committed against people who look like her in this nation’s past. She’ll have a lifetime to learn about the prejudice, racism and white privilege that are still present today. I don’t need her learning that lesson from a doll that is supposed to be a treasured toy that teaches her about friendship and resilience. That lesson is tough to swallow when it comes in such a sad package.

In fairness, they do have another black doll. Cecile, from New Orleans, who is not a slave and, from the literature on their website, who tries to help others in need. Because of this other doll, there will be some people who say I shouldn’t be upset when I could just buy that one. Well, simply put, I can’t imagine why I’d want to spend my money with a company that thinks a slave doll is not just OK, but a good enough idea to sell under the guise of a sickly sweet story about how she learned “freedom isn’t always fair.”

You have failed, American Girl, and it will take a hell of a lot more than a half-assed apology via a press release before you’ll ever get me spend my money on any of your dolls.

No matter how long she’s been around, it’s high time you take Addy off the shelves and invest in sensitivity training for your employees and executives. Little black girls deserve better.

By jennae

Hi! I'm Jennae Petersen and I'm the eco diva who had the bright idea to share my journey toward green living with the blogosphere. Some of you may know me as the founder of Green Your Decor, my blog about eco-friendly home decor, as a Walmart Mom, from Twitter or from my organic cotton t-shirt line Differently Clothing. Stick around for a while!

38 comments

  1. This is a very interesting post. I had an American Girl doll as a kid and loved it. I got mine when they were just starting out and only had like 5 dolls I believe. I had the blonde Swedish doll but Abby was one of the ones they had. I had all of the books from all of the dolls, including Abby’s. I can’t remember the story that well to be honest.

    Though as a kid I was happy they had a doll with glasses and an African American doll, as those weren’t common and I thought it was nice. But I never thought about it like you pointed out. I am white, and have blonde hair, and blue eyes, though I am Native American (the Native American doll came out later than when I got mine) I don’t have to deal with direct racism or systemic racism, so I know I can’t understand fully and after reading this I do see what you are saying 100%.

    I doubt they will remove her as she is one of the first dolls but maybe they could make some changes to make it more sensitive? This is not an area I feel like I can have the answers for and feel badly that it has likely been hurtful to a lot of people. Thank you so much for writing this, I like to be able to see things like this in different lights.

    1. Lisa, I just learned that she’s been around for a long time, and that really hurt my heart. I sincerely wonder how the company has gotten away with it for so long. I didn’t grow up with American Girl dolls, but I can’t imagine my mother would’ve been OK with giving me a doll that was a slave, no matter how pretty the picture they tried to paint with her story. It really hurts my heart that after all these years of being on the shelf when I’m sure others have complained, I have to spend hours explaining to my 7-year-old kid why we won’t be buying an American Girl.

      Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to see it from my perspective!

  2. I had an Addy doll as a child and ALL of her books and other accessories. She was my favorite. I loved that she had skin and hair like mine and her books were so interesting to me as a child. I grew up in a home where my family was very honest about prejudice and racism I would face outside of my home and Addy served as a great tool for me to learn about it. What I remember most was being shocked to learn that other black ppl will discriminate as well (Addy’s relationship with a classmate named Harriette who proudly proclaimed she wasn’t a descendant of slaves). I don’t think it’s ever too early for children to learn this part of American history. While I never liked that Addy was the only option for me, that issue has been resolved, partially.

    1. Alex, I’m glad that you had a great experience with Addy, but I still take issue with the fact that American Girl is essentially forcing a heavy conversation with a child about slavery because they were too lazy and culturally blind to come up with a less stereotypical depiction of African Americans in history. Our household is also very open about slavery and prejudice, but that doesn’t mean every toy maker should use the “lesson” as an excuse to be completely dismissive of other black contributions to history.

      I suppose if someone had given my daughter the doll without my knowledge of the story, I’d live with it and figure out how to make it a teaching moment. However, given the choice, I’d rather teach my child about slavery on my own terms. Not wrapped in a cookie-cutter story that doesn’t paint a very accurate picture.

      And speaking of hair, it’s hilarious to me that a slave doll has silky straight hair. In the 1800s? Really?

      1. I don’t know if you know this, but Slavery was a big part of the history of the United States. As a teacher, I strongly believe that kids should be taught about slavery and the courageous people (like Addy) who ran away and had to deal with the brutality of slavery. There are literally hundreds of children’s books about slaves running away to freedom, including “Follow the Drinking Gourd” and “The Freedom Quilt” which are both award winning books. I don’t understand why you believe that it is offensive for children at a third grade level (who the American Girls are for) to learn about one of the biggest parts of American history. Also, these dolls are not meant to be 100% accurate. I’m sure Kirsten would not have had perfectly straight hair either, in fact very few people would. They are dolls. They are meant to be fun to play with and to persuade children to be excited about history and knowledgeable of the past. Addy covers a major part of U.S> History that can not and should not be ignored.

        1. I’m sorry, Sarah, but did you read the comment to which you replied? I don’t know if you know this, but I am well aware that slavery was a big part of U.S. history. However, it was not the ONLY part in which African Americans played an important role. Why isn’t there a white doll whose parents were abolitionists? Wouldn’t that also be a way to teach about slavery from a different point of view? But there are never any dolls like that, are there?

          And as you so eloquently stated, there are “literally hundreds of children’s books about slaves running away to freedom”, so why did American Girl feel the need to make another, and a doll to go with it? There are so many other, more positive, pieces of Black history that could’ve been used for inspiration. They chose the lazy route of slavery as a backdrop. I don’t buy the educational excuse. Sorry. My daughter will, no doubt, learn about slavery in a dozen other ways, and I choose to spend my money with a company that understands that.

          1. They are still making new dolls. I didnt think Kirsten was an original doll, I thought she was newer when I heard of her. I’ve never owned an American girl doll but I have 3 copies of the first Kirsten book, two of the last, two sets of the full series (one is a book with all of them together), Julie, Beforever Maryellen, and Rebecca series, 1 Beforever Rebecca book, 1st Grace book, two of the second, both Isabelles, 1st Mckenna, 1st Lea, 1st Beforever Melody, and 1st Lea. It’s ridiculous really.

  3. With all due respect, I don’t think this doll is such a bad idea. Children don’t like school so learning about slavery from school may not always have the profound effect on them as we’d like it to (especially the children who aren’t of color, they might care so much less). But learning about it through the medium of a doll (which children play with and use their imaginations with), it’s possible for the child to envision the doll’s tribulations as they are playing with it. Perhaps this can build better empathy because the story that unfolds (in the eyes of the child) is not a boring story about a slave from hundreds of years ago, but is rather a story about a cherished friend that the child adores (or even the child themselves as they may put themselves into the story as the doll). Does this makes sense? This is just an opinion, of course.

    1. Justin, thanks for taking the time to comment, but that’s a sweeping generalization, isn’t it? “Children don’t like school?” Really? My daughter happens to love school, in part because we make learning a priority at home as well. And we do teach her about slavery, on our own terms. Not just what’s in the history books at school or what sickly sweet doll stories would lead her to believe.

      Frankly, I’m sick of the assumption on the part of toymakers that the “only” way black children — or ANY children, for that matter — would learn about the atrocity of slavery is through a toy. If they’re so insistent on providing a lesson in historical accuracy with the dolls, why aren’t there white dolls who are slave masters’ daughters? Couldn’t that be a teaching tool too? Why aren’t there Jewish Holocaust dolls? Why isn’t the Native American doll set on the Trail of Tears? Because those choices would be offensive, right? But somehow, a slave doll was OK? Sorry. Not buying it.

      This “teaching tool” excuse is getting old. I can teach my daughter plenty about slavery without having to use a toy that glamorizes our history and makes it look a whole lot more shiny and desirable than it really was. Plus, quite frankly, I would be surprised if more than a few non-white parents bought this doll for their child. And I’m afraid that even if they did, any potential lesson would be lost, because this doll and her stories make slavery look like a a fairy tale rather than the horror that it was.

      The bottom line is that they could have chosen ANY other era. ANY other story that also could have had educational value. But somehow they were comfortable with the idea of a slave doll because they convinced themselves there was a lesson to be taught. Forgive my language, but I call bullshit on that.

    1. Exactly! That’s all I’m saying. Of all the potential eras, potential lessons and choices they could have made, let’s be real: Their own stereotypes led them to choose slavery.

      1. Well, Addy was my daughter’s first AG doll. She has since added 4 more to her collection; which includes the Native American doll and Cecille who is from New Orleans. I have become a huge fan of the historical dolls because of the stories that bring the dolls to life. I have not completed Addy’s story so I can’t really form an opinion,but I don’t feel that the company should pull her from their shelves. I wholeheartedly agree with you that AG could have chosen a different period in history to develop an African-American doll, but remember these dolls are from different periods of American history & as bleak & cruel as slavery was, it is a part of American history. I would very much appreciate if AG would add an African-American doll that tells the story about the civil war period that includes the emancipation proclamation. I would be first in line to buy that doll. Just my two cents!

        1. I agree that pressure should be placed on the company to alter the start of Addy’s story so it does not begin from a run away slaves point of view, but from a little girl who is free!

  4. I think that the point was missed in the whole thing. I personally never heard of the Doll until now. But after reading the capture and I will quote “she learned that freedom isnt always fair” You see white people are sometimes called fair skinned people. So I love the doll as freedom is not just for fair skinned people we dark skinned people are free also. I mean that is my understanding of it.

    1. Sherrice, you are absolutely entitled to your interpretation of it. Personally, I don’t take offense to the language so much as the whole concept. It just pisses me off that American Girl felt comfortable with their decision to create a slave doll — even an escaping slave — as if slavery is the only compelling period in African American history.

  5. I don’t see the huge issue in which your having a problem with. This doll is part of the historic line of dolls at American Girl and is portraying part of history. Remember, these dolls are made for ages around 5-12. They chose slavery because it is a subject that most kids know alittle about, and would be interested to learn more about.

    The doll and stories are supposed to teach the kids, while they are having fun of course. It was a important part of American history and it’s not as if they are saying that she CAN’T be free. It’s a story, and a doll. There are plenty other slave based dolls that are being sold.

    And the fact that you would boycot them over such a matter is ridiculous. I’m of greek heritage, but if they made a greek / roman doll that is based in the middle of a brutal war I would boycot them over it. Hell if I had a kid id actually GET it for them, as it would show that they would be open to learn and talk about it. Not as if it was a dirty subject.

    1. Owning a little slave doll is a way to learn about slavery? How about having a conversation with their child. How about researching and finding education resources. I don’t need to give my kids a concentration camp doll to teach them about genocide. Some people may find it inappropriate and insensitive, it is their right.

      For a large part of American history we were allotted little other identity but that of slave, that of servant, and that of anything that reduced us to less than our full selves. I find it offensive for many reasons that have deep roots in degradation, hurt, rape and genocide.

      Murder and genocide are a part of history like sex tracking, rape or prostitution, would it be appropriate to have dolls for these topics?

  6. I think you’re over reacting. She’s not a doll about slavery, she’s a doll about freedom! This is a doll about realizing. You deserve to be free! They picked the biggest moment for the black culture, and that’s when they got the start of being free and being treated right. Without this there wouldn’t be the other moments to show for. You should be glad they didn’t ignore such an important moment.

    1. Melissa, of course you think I’m overreacting. You have the luxury of not having these types of conversations forced upon you because corporations were too lazy to do better. And if you genuinely believe that the end of slavery was “the biggest moment for the black culture”, and that black people all of a sudden started “being treated right” because it ended, you really need to read up on black history. Lastly, please don’t come here to patronize me by telling me what I “should be glad” about. I will be glad when companies recognize that black history involves more than just slavery, and not a moment sooner.

  7. Hi,
    I am in the process of buying an American Girl Doll–But I am torn between Addy and Cecile. I am African American and I relate to the pigmentation of Addy {so much} and I love her face. However, I find that this doll may be depressing for me to look at daily due to her storyline. On the other hand, I love Cecile but her green eyes and lightened skin tone make her look less African American. I think this is the intent of many dollmakers–as if African Americans need improvements or something–to look good. Nevertheless–I am sure I will probably buy Cecile, but I am still on the fence.
    I am trying to imagine a room full of Caucasian people deciding to make the first African American/ American Girl doll and depict her as a slave. This alarms me! My spouse just said, They or Caucasians should not be rewarded–by this doll being purchased–by African-Americans. In my opinion, American Girl was insensitive and should not have come up with a doll with the story line of slavery and called her a slave. I agree that it would have been more empathetic to have the story line begin with Addy being freed from slavery or a happier story line. Frankly–I am not shocked that many commenters on this blog do not understand why this doll is offensive. However–I do understand why it is offensive and I will not be buying Addy afterall! I suddenly feel like I will be buying her as a slave–to ensure her freedom from slavery. That ain’t right! What the Hell! Is American Girl Doll Company crazy??? Addy should already be free and using the word slave to describe her is extremely offensive to my mind. Africans were not slaves but enslaved and there is a big difference. Enslaved means make (someone) a slave or to control someone by keeping the person in a bad or difficult situation where the person is not free. Addy was enslaved and if American Girl wants to write this story with sensitivity–they need to mention that she was enslaved. This takes the focus off of Addy and puts the focus on the people who harmed her or need to take responsibility for what they did. I am sure American Girl does not want to do that!!!! There are very few Caucasians who are willing to say what truly happened is that one race enslaved another– But African Americans were not slaves. Identity is who someone is : the name of a person : the qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group different from others. Therefore–It is unfair to say that Addy was a slave. Slavery was done against her will and she does not need to ever take it own as her identity!!! Addy was a Child of God–enslaved in America! That is her true identity! Enough Said! I will not be buying the doll Addy Walker ever!!! She should be free and then I would not feel like I was buying her out of slavery or giving money to the ancestors of the people who enslaved her!!! What the Hell! I want to give a big thank you to the person over this blog. I am very thankful that you have brought attention to the wrongness of Addy Walker’s storyline or the offensiveness of it. I totally get where you are coming from.

  8. Good Point regarding “Why aren’t there Jewish Holocaust dolls?”
    The reason is that this would offend a lot of people. But it is okay to offend African-Americans. I am sorry to say that it is due to having or showing a bias : an unfair tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others. This is prejudice which includes “any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence.” Hello!
    Therefore–It is acceptable to make an African-American doll and call her a slave, but it’s unacceptable to make a Jewish doll and call her a Jewish Holocaust Doll. It ain’t right.
    This is something to watch out for and it is called programming/brainwashing.
    In the words of Malcolm X–I didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on me.
    On another note, I went on Ebay looking for an Addy Walker doll before I decided not to buy her. There are tons of Addy Walker Dolls for sale on Ebay. This let me know that she is not treasured by the people who bought her. Perhaps they became displeased with the distasteful story line.

  9. I went to the store and bought the AG-African American Doll with dark brown skin and dark brown hair. She is so beautiful. I did go and find the Addy Walker Doll first. She was inside of a glass case. There were about 6 or 7 with different outfits on. I asked if any Addy Doll was out or on display and I was told NO. I did notice that every other doll I saw in the magazine…was out and available to pick up and hold or feel. I was not happy to see that Addy was the only doll in the magazine that was not on display. I don’t know why this was the case. I can only imagine that they have had some problems in the past with people harming the Addy Walker Doll. I did not ask and find out any specifics. It did feel like Addy was not free–Still–and she was not allowed to come out and play like all the other dolls. These are just my feelings and others may feel differently. I have a 10 year old niece who wants to visit American Girl and I can say for sure—she would feel the same way. She is very aware of history and slavery in America. I spoke to a female worker at the store and she was upset about the books about Addy and told me that in one book Addy is on the ground hovering over her father and brother who are about to be sold. I may have that wrong; I have not read the book. The lady who worked there told me that in the book–is actual shackles on the feet of people and a photo of an enslaved person being beaten by the master. She also said it is ridiculous that there are only a few black dolls to choose from and not a variety of shades of color. Just thought I would give my update as far as my visit to the store. In conclusion, The book is very traumatizing and anyone who reads it will need to process emotions or feel and heal regards slavery and the impact of this cruelty done to innocent people. I am not ready to do that–so I will not be buying the Addy books. I will never buy the doll due to it is a reminder of so much pain and suffering at the hands of cruel, sadistic, selfish, and heartless people.

  10. Im a woman who’s half black & i grew up with an Addy doll & love her dearly(she is still displayed on my doll shelf 20 yrs later).

    i never once saw her as an insult…….I saw her as being a symbol of STRENGTH(she doesn’t let anything stop her for escaping to freedom), LOVE(Addy’s family& her love for them is everything important to her & is her strength) & HOPE(she never loses hope of reuniting with her family)

    Before you assume anything or jump off the edge getting all offended…..I suggest you actually remember that the Historical characters & books are meant to educate young girls about AMERICA… through ALL aspects!!! Pleasant Rowlad( the woman who created American Girl), yes is white, But more importantly she IS an EDUCATOR & TEACHER who sought out to see young girls become more educated about their nations beginning & history…. To ignore Slavery as a major part of our history as americans, in my opinion would be insulting as a woman myself who is Half black….it would be like saying we should hide our history in shame & believe me we have nothing to be ashamed of.

    Also….. the Addy book series WAS WRITTEN BY A BLACK WOMAN…..so don’t just assume a bunch of insensitive white people sat in a room & made Addy just to stereotype & piss people off….

    You really should ready the books that correspond with the doll first before you make any assumptions….The story in actuality really only begins with Addy being a slave in the first 3 short chapters of the book “Meet Addy”….you’d see that in the rest of “Meet Addy” she adjusts to freedom in what was written to be Philadelphia in the year 1864 & discovers that while she is free from slavery, she next faced segregation ( hence American girls quote of “freedom isn’t always fair”) & as the series continues with her being free she picks a birthday, joyful spells her name for the first time, learns trust, & the series ends with the reunion of her family & the historical reading/celebration of the emancipation proclamation( it then explains what the emancipation proclamation is & why it is so important in black history) in “Changes for Addy”

    american girl does continue the next era of black history with Cecile…. although I’m not familiar with all of Ceciles story, i admit…I believe her story covers the effects the louisiana purchase had on the black community in New Orleans, Louisiana.

    but remember each character is supposed to represent an different era in history & continues with the next character & story…. Hence why the doll “Felicity” representing the colonial era of 1774 is white….because historically the settlers in that era were white, then it goes to “Kristen” who’s a 1854 pioneer, THEN comes “Addy” & “Cecile” from 1850’s-1964(both representing two extremely different aspects & eras of black history in that time frame)…. then it goes to “Samantha” who’s story covers social/financial Class equality in 1904, THEN to “Molly” in 1943 who’s story covers world war 2 as her father is a soldier sent to war…. Then lastly “Julie” who’s story covers the history of the 1970’s, covers divorce, social movements & changes that occurred in the 70’s…

    you see where the historical line & pattern(the years) of the girls stories flow together? how the eras flow from character to character?

    to say Addy is “insulting” in my view… is just another far cry & far stretch for people who LOOK for reasons to be “offended”.

    Case & point…..NOT EVERYONE IS OUT TO OFFEND US OR BE INSENSITIVE.

    1. BeeBee, you are obviously entitled to your opinion, but it seems you have missed my point. Why was Addy the default idea for a black doll? The stories about social/class inequality or a father sent to war couldn’t have included a black doll? Frankly, couldn’t the story about slavery have been told from the perspective of a white doll whose father was an abolitionist or a slave owner? The answer is, these FICTIONAL stories with a historical context absolutely could have been told a variety of different ways, but American Girl chose to relegate the black doll to the role of slave — whether she remained a slave or not.

      Whether the decision was made by a room full of white people or whether it involved people of color, I still view that decision as reductive and insensitive of the other contributions black people have made to history. Do with that information what you will.

  11. Lula Bell,

    The American girl worker is Partially/somewhat correct in her description of the book series.

    YES, there is a part in the book where Addys family (father & brother) are Sold & she jumps onto her father to get one last hug only seconds after she finds out he is to be sold, causing the “master” to stop whipping the father cause Addy is just a child & too young to whipped… but she doesn’t have time to hug her teen brother who’s already shackled, cause the mother grabs her & holds her back as they watch her father & brother taken away(She finds them later in the series, after they escape to freedom themselves)

    There are NO parts in the book depicting characters being “beaten” by the master, but there is one part in the book where Addy is clearing worms out of a crop field & the “master” makes her eat a mouthful of worms for not clearing them out fast enough after she stops for a second to catch her breath(the character of Addy is supposed to be a child only 9 years old, just coming of the age where she realizes she’s a slave)

    the series depicts the unfair actions & horrible situations that slaves had to endure, but not in a very graphic way….id say its okay for ages 8 & older.

    she’s not a slave through the whole series, just the first 3 chapters of the first book ” meet Addy”….. it goes onto becoming a happier series after that.

    Addy & her mother escape slavery in the 4th chapter & live a life of freedom in the north where Addy picks a birthday, gets into school, learns to spell her name for the first time, & celebrates the reading of the emancipation proclamation with her whole family.

    its written in age appropriate( 7 -12yrs old) phrases/terms.

    its not really much different from how they teach about this history subject in a school classroom….

    I honestly can say I didn’t find it to be traumatizing, cause while it tells of a part of our history, girls know the characters of the books are fictional…. I began reading these books @ age 7.

    while reading the books as a kid i thought “wow, thats really messed up & evil!” but I wasn’t scared by reading them @ all.

  12. Jennae,

    I think American girl may have created Addys character the way they did as the default/first black American girl doll because wasn’t the 1860’s & civil war era the start of black history within the USA?

    I think people would have had a fit & called American girl racist if they tried make the doll for the slavery & civil war era white….then people would be upset because there would still be no black American girl for their girls.

  13. I was writing a post for my blog and looking at the pictures that i’ve taken the day that i visited american girl’s store in nyc…I’ve noticed that most of them were blonde! and not only that….The only dolls that were left at the shelve of the restaurant were latins and black dolls (Strange), it’s like if all the little girls that were there having lunch, had chosen a white blonde doll….instead of the one that really looked like them. So i would not only say that American Girl is discriminating black people, i would also say that they are making these girls believe that they have to be white, skinny and perfect like the dolls.
    I don’t know if you have noticed but there aren’t any fat doll either. There are dolls in wheelchairs, with cancer, hearing aid’s….but not FAT! This is also unfair for kids….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I just would like to know what we need to do to get American Girl to change Abby image to a more modern day African-American girl. They could just retire Abby and to allow her to become a collectible and recreate an entire image of a new innovative, strong African-American modern day girl!

  14. As a 60 year old African American mother of 5 daughters, I just purchased the beautiful Addy Doll. History cannot be erased so you build off of it. I’m a firm believer that you cannot move forward without knowing where you have been. Our success as a people (all people), is strength, love, and hope. That is what the Addy doll represent to me. We all have been enslaved in some form. The author of Addy’s story captures this to make moving forward a victory.

  15. American Girl Store in Orla do experience. ..they are racist… they put separated the white dolls from the black ones in their displays. The black dolls are dressed like servants and slaves and the white ones are professionals and artists…VERY OFFENSIVE.

  16. You need to get a grip… Slavery happen. It is a part of not only Black History but American History.. Hence the reason the doll was created to teach about this time period. It is unfortunate that American Girl took so many years to produce another black doll.. Cecile came and went so quickly, I’m happy I was able to purchase her… Melody is due out this summer.. She is free but this was a doll during the Civil Roghts/Jim Crow Era so there where ugly times then as well. My advice to you.. Embrace who you are the good and bad parts of history. Teach your child we where not slaves we where enslaved and there is more to our existence than what happen in America. There are other dolls you. Can also purchase. You can create your own story line using Addy.. Buy purchasing other doll accessories and have your child help cowrite a new story for Addy! I am African American and proud and I love Addy Walker. Her stories are well written and empowering. Join our Facebook group for adult addy collectors. American Girl Addy Collectors and follow my You tube Channel. Traveling with Addy Walker.

  17. I truly enjoyed two of the books I recently read on a trip back from South Carolina. They belong to my grand daughter. I have always enjoyed learning about the way black men, women and children suffered and overcame all odds, those who actually lived, and became successful to date. I didn’t know there were dolls that accompanied the books but I can’t see why they would be offensive. Everybody sees things differently. Don’t speak for all black girls. What’s offensive is dolls like Barbie that stress certain build and sizes for our little girls to aspire to. I wouldn’t be surprised if anorexia and bulimia are the result of trying to be like those dolls. We need to encourage people who are doing positive things like becoming authors and attempting to bring history of our race to the forefront. Don’t tear down people just because you can. What goes around comes around and whatever we sow THAT we will also reap. I hope to read the other books!!!

  18. I generally don’t comment on any of these rant posts, I was actually just looking for an example of the first Addy doll compared to the most current, and I’m not even going to try to get into any of this mumbo jumbo in the comments, but anyways… American Girl is releasing an African American girl, Melody, set in 1960’s Detroit. I’m sure they chose Detroit because she’s a musician and Motown would make the most sense. She’s to be released next month. But, yes, she has straight, textured hair, just like a middle class AA girl in 60’s Detroit would have.

  19. I would agree with you, but honestly, it’s clear you haven’t really read the books. The doll is appropriately a CIVIL WAR era doll, and for the most part, she was a slave for one half of the book.

    No slavery isn’t a joke, but her bravery throughout the story is inspiring and if girls get to act out a scene of standing up to oppression or better yet, what the actual stories are about, like enjoying a shadow play for Christmas, or going to school or cooking with Addy to learn how to read like Addy did….why is that bad?

    The biggest crime American Girl is guilty of is the pricing…It’s ridiculous. But I’d rather my children play with this doll than Barbie, Bratz, or better yet, make those ridiculous over-sexualized videos with those V-apps with their fancy technology.

  20. It’s amazing to me how people can read something so eloquent and still miss the point. She is not saying that they should pretend that slavery never happened. She is questioning WHY this had to be the default situation for their only historical black doll. Why is the only option for a little black girl (at least currently and for a VERY long time) a slave doll? What are they telling little black girls? That their only portion in history was as a slave? The fact that AG is only now getting around to talking about the Civil Rights Era is equally telling. Excellent points the OP brought up.

  21. When I was 12, my friend who was African American had Addy. She loved Addy and whenever she came to my house, she would read the book. Since I am multiracial and I grew up in the suburbs, I don’t feel as if I ever had the problem of racism. American Girl does have other African American dolls that don’t discuss racism, such as Cecile and Gabriella. Addy is a beautiful doll and I don’t think the children really read the books. When I got my doll I only read 3 pages. I was focused on the doll, not really the book. Addy actually gets helped by a woman, so it isn’t always cruel in the book.

  22. Excellent points about alternative possibilities with regards to role models in black history. A Harlem Renaissance doll would have been amazing! To be sure, slavery is an egregious, almost lazy, default when characterizing African Americans in history. I’m struck though, too, by the depth of your animosity toward the story of an enslaved girl. It recalls times when I taught Virginia history and couldn’t help but notice black students’ discomfort with the topic, while the descendants of slaveholders and their stories carried no burden of guilt. How messed up is that? Can’t a slave be heroic, defined in ways above and beyond that condition? Blanketing stories like Addy’s as offensive perpetuates these indignities.

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