I don’t think I’ve ever believed in Santa Claus. That clichéd moment where someone accidentally spills the beans and crushes innocent children’s imaginations never happened to me. Perhaps, because when I was growing up we exchanged gifts on three king’s day instead of Christmas. This is why I will always remember my first Christmas in the states. That, and because it’s the first time I remember noticing color for the first time.
My mom and my dad took my sisters and I to a toy store for our first Christmas. They turned to us and said “go pick out what you want us, we mean Santa, to bring to you! (See, my parents had no respect for Santa Claus)” They set us loose and I walked around every aisle looking for the perfect doll. I ran past the Barbie aisle, I never liked her anyway, looked at all the easy bake ovens and all the board games. There was nothing that called my name. That is, until I saw the most perfect doll. She had on a big bow on her head and a microphone attached to her hand. I was convinced I was going to be a superstar and that doll and I were a match made in heaven. I grabbed her and ran to my parents.
My mom took one look at the doll in my hand and ordered to return it and grab a different one. Why? Because much to my mother’s horror I had grabbed the black doll and that was unacceptable.
“But, that’s the one I want” I told her lips quivering.
“Why don’t you get this one, this one is pretty” (hands me the white doll)
I hold on to my doll tighter and in that moment, in the middle of the store, I start to cry. My mother, who has never been one for scenes, tries to get me to stop. She gives me “the look” and whispers “Stop it!” through her teeth. I am inconsolable. How am I going to put on shows without my singing doll?! Finally, my father puts a stop to it and says I can get whatever doll I want. My mom is annoyed, my father just wanted me to stop throwing a tantrum and I got to go home happy.
Why am I telling this story?
A few months ago there was an article on New Latina called “I’m white, my daughter is Latina and I buy black dolls.” I told this story in the comments sections and was contacted by Dash Harris about a documentary depicting the African diaspora in Latin America and its influence on the culture with a focus on colorism and racism among Latinos. I met up with her to film my own experience. Mostly, I let her know my confusion because my family is a veritable rainbow coalition. We’re all different shades and yet there are still comments and situations that remind me of that doll story to this day.
What do you think about the topic? Any similar experience?
You can learn more and support Dash’s documentary by clicking the link.
Ps. I wanted to show a picture of my family but I’m pretty sure they don’t want to be posted all over the internet. Instead, I have drawn you a picture! Enjoy.