Tag Archives: race

Cibu International Petition

Please check out my friend’s petition for Cibu International to change the names of its so-called Asian-inspired hair products. My friend has been in talks with Cibu to change some of its product names, which include “Miso Knotty Detangler” (“Me so naughty”), “Geishalicious Shampoo” and “Dry Kwon Do Dry Shampoo”, among others.

After contact from my friend, Cibu said it may change “Geishalicious”, but denies any play on words with the name “Miso Knotty” despite having wrapping paper that says “Miso Knotty, Miso Nice”. In my opinion, “Miso Knotty” is the most offensive name in the line. It uses racist stereotypes of how Asians speak English to allude to Asian prostitution. Please check out what my friend has to say about it in the petition as she is far more eloquent than I am on the topic.

While I think companies should be allowed to name their products whatever they want, these names really cross a line of decency. There are plenty of appropriate ways to give a product a witty name or even an ethnic name, but that did not happen here. I hope if enough voices come forward Cibu will reconsider some of its product names.


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Asian Babies on the Cheap

Today while we were window shopping at Toys R Us, I got really excited when I saw a set of Asian triplet baby dolls. In our neck of the woods, it’s hard to find a good Asian baby doll at most stores because we don’t have a large Asian demographic. There are a lot of generic “could be Asian, could be Hispanic, could be Mediterranean, who knows for sure!” dolls available, but not a lot of dolls that are blatantly Asian.

The dolls were pretty awesome, but then I noticed something odd. There was one other package of triplet dolls there that wasn’t Asian. This one contained African American triplets. At least, they were labeled as African American. The dolls could pass as dark-skinned Caucasians, but their price description labeled them as “Interactive Triplets AA”. I assume the “AA” stands for African American considering that is the race of the girl playing with them in the picture on the box. I also can assume the “AA” means African American because the Asian dolls were labeled as “Asian” on their price stickers, though the dinky pictures from my stupidphone’s camera make this hard to see.

Do you notice what was off here?

Take a closer look at the price.

The Asian baby dolls were $26.98.

The “AA” dolls were $39.99.

And they were displayed right next to each other in some sort of race pricing war.

I stood there for a long time staring and trying to figure out how the two sets of dolls might be different aside from their races, but nothing was different. The top dolls were “AA” and the bottom dolls were Asian. The Asian dolls were $13 cheaper than the African American dolls of the exact same make. The way it was set up read “Asians for sale! Cheap!” It really weirded me out.

In all honesty, I don’t think there was any intentional racism here. There were several boxes of Asian babies, only one box of African American babies and NO boxes of Caucasian babies. This leads me to believe this was a supply and demand problem. They received too many Asian triplet dolls and needed to get rid of them quick quick quick… which supports my previous post about the complete absence of Mulan baby dolls at almost all of our local toy stores (she’s at the Disney store, but they have everyone there). With low Asian demographics, stores don’t bother selling many Asian babies and when they do get some Asian inventory they have to slash the price to get the dolls out of the store because they don’t sell well. There were no Mulan, Jasmine or Pocahontas dolls of any type at this store and very few (if any) other Asian babies.

Regardless of the oversupply, I think the price cut should have waited perhaps until the other dolls sold out or the prices should not have been put side by side. It just looks bad even if that wasn’t the store’s intention. The way it’s set up right now says “Asian baby dolls just aren’t as valuable as dolls of other races!” and that just sits badly with me regardless of the true purpose of the price cut.

That said, if one race of doll is going to be deeply discounted, I suppose I’m happy that my wallet would be benefiting from it if we were actually in the market for MOAR TOYS two weeks after Christmas.



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Demographic Quandry

When we were in St. Louis of Christmas, I had a sudden panic when I realized I had failed in my Santa duties to get ANYTHING for Violet. Sure, she doesn’t technically need anything because she’s only 7 months old and she has two big sisters worth of toys and clothes, but I know Lily and Rose would be pissed at Santa if he forgot their favorite baby.

Being Santa is rough, isn’t it? I thought I’d enjoy it more, but it’s actually a huge pain in the ass. I just bought the girls eight Hanukkah nights worth of presents and I’m expected to do what now? I mean, I don’t even get mom-credit from them for the awesome things Santa brings. Some imaginary guy gets all the brownie points. Not to mention it’s really hard to hide presents during a road trip. My cover is so going to get blown soon. Why am I even doing the Santa thing? I’m Jewish! And my husband recently informed me that he doesn’t think his parents did Santa for him. If they had done Santa, I’m sure he’d have some memory of it. I only started this Santa thing because I figured if we were going to celebrate Christmas with my husband’s family that we should do the fun part, but the fun part hasn’t been all that fun so far!

Anyway, on my last minute Santa mission, I was determined to find Violet a Tiana baby doll. Rose said Violet needed a baby Tiana doll since Rose and Lily have baby Cinderella and baby Aurora.

The Walmart in St. Louis did not have baby Tiana. Instead, they had something way better that I didn’t even know existed. I had never ever seen it before in the store and I’ve been to the toy sections of pretty much every Target, Walmart and Toys R Us in the greater Toledo area. They had a baby Mulan doll.

Baby Mulan was a huge hit with all three girls, and not just because they were excited to have a doll that was Asian like them. In fact, I don’t think that the Asian thing even registered with them. They were just happy to have another Disney princess baby.

Why don’t the stores in Northwest Ohio have baby Mulans? I suspect I was able to find her in St. Louis because there are almost 3 times as many Asians living there. St. Louis’s population of 319,294 people was 2.9% Asian in the 2010 census, while Toledo’s population of 287,128 was 1% Asian. EDIT: Checking more specifically, the St. Louis suburban area where we were shopping was 6-7% Asian. So I wonder, do they only stock Mulan dolls where they know there are Asians around to buy them? Do they think populations of mostly white kids don’t want baby Mulan dolls?

I don’t have conclusive proof and can’t find anything on the internet to support I am right about this, but based on how many stores I’ve been to locally I can’t help to think this is what’s happening.

My kids may be half Asian, but I am white and I can tell you with certainty that I and most of my friends growing up would have wanted a baby Disney princess from each and every movie, regardless of that princess’s race. It makes me sad that the little girls in my area aren’t even given the opportunity to shop for this doll in stores. Sure, everything is available on the internet, but most of us still find out what our kids want for holidays and birthdays by taking them to the toy store. There’s usually no reason to use the internet for toys.

Let’s make all the princesses available in all the stores, not just the stores with the appealing racial demographics.



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Race Issue

Rose is obsessed with black baby dolls. If she has a choice between a black baby doll and a white one, she will always choose the black one. Recently we were at our local children’s museum and she piled up three of them to take care of in the play hospital. The white babies were completely ignored.

Her obsession fascinates me. This happens at every public play place we attend. Aside from her baby Cinderella doll, she doesn’t do much with her multi-colored baby dolls at home. We have two Asian baby dolls that are completely ignored. I bought her a black baby doll because I knew she loved them, but the only black doll I was able to find locally wasn’t nearly as dark as the baby dolls she’s drawn to in public. She ignores her black baby doll at home. I need to find a doll identical the the ones in this picture because these are exactly the dolls she loves.

I asked Rose why she likes these baby dolls so much. I think it’s adorable, but it’s an interesting choice for a half Korean/half Jewish girl. Rose’s answer?

“I like brown babies. These are brown babies like me!”

My half-Korean/half-white 3-year-old self-identifies as black.

I’m not sure what to make of this. It’s absolutely fine if she thinks she’s black. She definitely has darker skin than any of her friends, her mother and her sisters. I can see why she might think she’s black since images of black people are more prominent than Asian ones in the media. The truth is, however, she is not black. She’s Asian.

I think it’s important that she understand her own racial identity, so I got out her Asian babies and explained that while it is absolutely awesome that she loves to play with “brown babies” and I hope she continues to do so, she’s actually an Asian baby and THIS was an Asian baby like her. She was really excited by the fact that this baby, which we’ve had since before she can remember, looks like her and Daddy. She had never identified it looking like her before. Its skin is lighter than hers and its hair is black while hers is brown, so I don’t think she really understands how it looks like her.

I also explained that I am white and she is also a white baby. She’s a white AND brown baby.

What did she take away from this? Today she told her dad she didn’t have a brown face like him. She has a white face.

It’s apparently very confusing to be a 3-year-old biracial kid. We did not go through this with Lily, but her skin is very close in shade to mine. Lily’s also not as socially perceptive and verbal as Rose, so maybe these questions just haven’t come out of her yet. I’ve explained her racial situation to her to the best of my ability, but who knows what she’s gotten out of that if Rose took away that Daddy was brown and she was white when I explained she wasn’t actually a black baby but a biracial white and Asian one.

I’m not sure where we’re going with this. I keep explaining what it means that Daddy is Asian and Mommy is Jewish and “white” and how she’s a perfect blend of the two. I just have to hope that’s good enough.


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Toy WTF: Disney Princess Dolls

A few weeks before Lily’s birthday, we got her the Ultimate Princess Collection from Target. For $65ish, you get seven Barbie-sized princesses. I was especially excited because the set included Jasmine. Jasmine is often hard to find in stores. She gets the snub in the princess department and I really don’t know why. She’s one of my favorites. You also can’t usually find Mulan or Pocahontas unless you are at the Disney store.

Do you sense a theme here? There are plenty of Belles and Cinderellas and Snow Whites and Ariels to go around. Everybody likes a white princess. American Indian, Chinese and Arab princesses? They clearly don’t belong in Walmart or Target, as far as I can tell.

If you think I’m exaggerating this, watch what happened to the Ultimate Disney Princess Collection one week later.

Pay careful attention who got booted for the newbie, Merida, another white girl.

That’s right, Jasmine was kicked to the curb. The box that once contained five white princesses, an Arabic princess and an African American princess now contains SIX white princesses and an African American princess. Instead of getting rid of the princess who sucks the most (Snow White), they booted Jasmine, who is way more current and also brings diversity to the table.

WTF, Target and Disney? I mean, yes, you chose Jasmine over Aurora in the previous Ultimate Princess Collection, but then you boot Jasmine for Merida? Where’s Mulan? Where’s Pocahontas? How many white princesses do my girls need in a box? I mean, it took years to even get a hint of diversity in Disney princess films, but then you take it away in the merchandising? Really?

Is it really that hard to sell Mulan, Pocahontas and Jasmine dolls along with all the other dolls in most mainstream stores like Walmart, Target and Toys R Us? I can’t imagine my girls are the only ones who want these dolls in their collection. It makes me sad to think other girls only want the white princesses to the extent that you can’t even find the princesses of color unless you specifically hunt them down on the internet or a Disney store.



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Guest Post by Dr. Toy Warden: Diversity Doll

As mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, I took the kids solo to Indianapolis for a wedding while Toy Warden took a little break at home. On our way back, we stopped at a Mcdonald’s where I called Toy Warden to update the progress of our trip. I started talking about what we did at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum when Lily interjected loudly “Rose carried the black baby everywhere! Rose loves the black baby!”

Now I am generally comfortable using the term “black” when describing someone of African descent and I’m told it’s a perfectly acceptable term. Somehow, though, referring to a baby doll as black and having a four-year-old shout it out in public seemed a bit inappropriate. Yet I found it pretty funny at the same time. Anyways, the following is the story of Rose and the black baby.

When we were planning our trip I was real excited not just about the wedding, but also the world famous Indianapolis Children’s Museum about which I had heard such great things. The wedding was great, but the museum was largely a disappointment especially at the beginning. All I saw was educational exhibits for things like trains, dinosaurs and world cultures. Frankly, I wasn’t interested in any of that stuff. I came there to have fun, not to learn about stuff. Somehow though the girls kept migrating to these educational exhibits, the last being “The Power of Children” Normally I’m passionate about fair treatment of everyone and fighting discrimination, but I didn’t shell out $42.50 to learn about the Holocaust, racism and children with AIDS. The kids though didn’t want to leave. They spent about 30 minutes putting together puzzles of children from diverse racial backgrounds and coloring bookmarks at a table of books about Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White.

Certainly these were courageous and important children in history, but I had had enough. All of this stuff we can do at home. So I called Toy Warden. “Where the hell is all the fun stuff? I have had enough of this educational crap!” She suggested we try “Playscape.”

So I somehow finally managed to get the girls out of “The Power of Children” and into “Playscape.” They spent some time at the water table and the sand box before discovering the black baby at the pretend kitchen. Lily and Rose spent a good twenty minutes feeding this baby with everything the kitchen had to offer. Once again I got impatient because we already have this kind of stuff at home. Lily moved on and enjoyed other parts of Playscape, but Rose stayed with the baby. Another kid stopped by with this white/perhaps half-Asian baby and wanted to use the highchair, but Rose insisted that it was her baby’s highchair and wouldn’t allow it.

Eventually Rose did move on and took the black baby everywhere. Down the Slide.

Planting Crops.


Despite Rose feeding the baby everything in the kitchen earlier, she returned in shock that a different white baby had taken her baby’s spot on the high chair.

So naturally Rose throws out this other baby and puts her baby in her rightful place in the high chair.

I worried that we wouldn’t be able to leave the baby there without a major tantrum. I thought about asking if there was a way to buy the baby from the museum, but much to my surprise we were able to leave without incident.

I called Toy Warden and told her about how Rose carried a black baby everywhere and how she dumped the white baby out of the high chair. So Lily didn’t actually come up with term “black baby” on her own. That was from me.

Personally, I thought the whole episode was pretty awesome. I usually scoff at people who say “I don’t see race” because you know, of course they do. However, it appears that Rose really didn’t see race, so perhaps it is possible. It also may be that she actually preferred that baby because it was black, and that would be fine with me too. The fact that I bothered to note that this was a black baby perhaps reveals my own subconscious racism where white is normal or ideal even though I am Asian. I know if Rose was playing with a white baby I wouldn’t have called it a “white baby”. I would have just called it a baby. Perhaps I should have paid more attention at “The Power of Children” exhibit and maybe Rose did learn something there about loving and treating everyone the same. I hope she doesn’t forget.

My husband Dr. Toy Warden has a hilarious blog about his organic chemistry student evaluations over at Beratemyprofessor.blogspot.com.


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