Walmart is raising eyebrows after cutting the price of a black Barbie doll to nearly half of that of the doll’s white counterpart at one store and possibly others.
A photo first posted to the humor Web site FunnyJunk.com and later to the Latino Web site Guanabee.com shows packages of Mattel’s Ballerina Barbie and Ballerina Theresa dolls hanging side by side at an unidentified store. The Theresa dolls, which feature brown skin and dark hair, are marked as being on sale at $3.00. The Barbies to the right of the Theresa dolls, meanwhile, retain their original price of $5.93. The dolls look identical aside from their color.
Naturally, this market force is harmful to the self-image of minority kids:
“The implication of the lowering of the price is that’s devaluing the black doll,” said Thelma Dye, the executive director of the Northside Center for Child Development, a Harlem, N.Y. organization founded by pioneering psychologists and segregation researchers Kenneth B. Clark and Marnie Phipps Clark.
“While it’s clear that’s not what was intended, sometimes these things have collateral damage,” Dye said.
Instead of coming to a basic understanding of human behavior and economics simultaneously — which is that white kids are more likely to buy white dolls and black kids are more likely to buy black dolls, and this particular Wal-Mart more than likely has more white shoppers buying the white dolls — this is becoming yet another race issue.
Econ 101 says that when a product isn’t moving, the price goes down until it sells, but some minority leaders might want to think twice before setting a bad precedent by intimidating stores into increasing the price of products targeted to minorities.
Besides, if the price of the doll raises the self-image of kids, what would Thelma Dye say if Wal-Mart priced the black dolls twice as much as the white dolls? Would she say that Wal-Mart really cares about the self-image of black kids, or would she accuse them of pricing the dolls so high that black kids are forced to buy the white dolls?
The people who should really be offended are the white trash. This White Trash Barbie was marked down to $1.25, including a pack of smokes and a wife-beater t-shirt: