The monumental birth of Black Barbie

Originally published at:


“Years ago there were no black dolls” … that is inaccurate. In the 1950s my aunt gave me a black baby doll. It was probably the Amosandra doll from the wildly popular radio show. We named him Sammany and cherished him.

(neither of us is/was Black)


My wife had a Black baby doll as a child. No one seemed to think it was odd. Early '70s. It’s still in her doll cradle in our guest room. Honestly, at this point, it’s a little terrifying looking, but she still loves it, so all good.


She meant no Black BARBIE dolls, specifically; and that is accurate.

They did not exist until 1980, 31 years after Mattel introduced the first Barbie doll.

I know because my mom, (who is White and was born in 1949) went out of her way to look for Barbies or even ANY fashion doll that looked anything like me or my sister and me (who are Black and were born in 1967 and 1975, respectively.)

I got that exact Barbie for my 5th birthday, and it was a BIG FREAKIN’ DEAL.

Thanks for sharing.


Which show was that? Might the source impact the context and meaning of the doll you had in reference to this discussion?


Oh, I am so glad you asked:

It was Amos and Andy, a “famously popular” racist radio show that featured minstrel characters, and it was also made into a movie in 1930 that utilized blackface.

And the doll itself, “Amosandra?”

The Sun Rubber Co. of Barberton released that toy in 1949.

Representative Maxine Waters, the woman who was quoted in the trailer that “there used to be no black dolls,” was born in 1938.

So ‘Auntie Maxine’ was absolutely right; when she was a little girl, there were not even any Black baby dolls in mass production.

Does that mean that many Black people simply made their own dolls, to make up for that lack?

Of course; in fact, I still have the mocha latte-hued rag doll that has been passed down through my family over the decades:

(I had her ‘refurbished’ when I gave her to my daughter as a little girl, about 15 years ago.)

It cannot be said enough:

Representation matters.


oh, damn. i read the name of that doll and immediately knew the radio show. :person_facepalming:t2:
Amosandra!!! wow. just, wow…

btw, i love your rag doll. she is beautiful!


Thank ya, kindly.


Wow – I remember Polsky’s department store…



Are you also an Ohio native?

1 Like

I grew up in the place of cows and corn, yes. And Rust Belt.

Yeah, I haven’t lived out that way in decades, myself.

For me, especially now, Ohio is a place that’s “better to be from than to go back to…”


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.