Defining Ourselves: The Affirmative Action Dollhouse
Rob Hill

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Art By: Jeff Westover
Art By: Jeff Westover
Modern, middle-class parents, Jane and I make a habit of turning playtime into learning time for our two-year-old daughter, Emalee, whenever we can. That’s why shopping for Christmas presents last month was not just a matter of buying toys for a kid; it was our annual social engineering project. For example, we could not buy her a "girl toy" like a baby doll, without buying her a "boy toy" of equal value to offset the sexual stereotyping. And naturally, we could not buy her the dollhouse she wanted without ensuring that the occupants of the dollhouse were representative of our ethnically diverse population. Emalee is now the owner of the world’s first ethnically modified Fisher-Price Affirmative Action Dollhouse.

The Fisher-Price dollhouse -- at least the one sold at our suburban Toys R Us branch -- comes with a standard Caucasian nuclear family consisting of Mommy and Daddy dolls, with a pre-teen daughter and a baby boy. The similar African-American family is sold separately without a house. Naturally, this appeared to Jane and me to be an unnecessary perpetuation of the uneven division of wealth among the races. Thus in order to more evenly distribute the wealth and to promote integration in the dollhouse, Jane and I decided to purchase the African-American family dolls so that Emalee could have them move into the house. Then the African-American family would rent out the upstairs to the white family, perhaps through a federally subsidized housing voucher program for low-income families.

The only problem with our brilliant little plan to shatter racial stereotypes was that Emalee has no stereotypes. In fact, she not only has no racial stereotypes, she has no concept of race whatsoever. It’s rather an odd thing, really, when I consider that Emalee is obsessed with color in other respects.

"What color are your eyes, Daddy? What color are my eyes, Daddy? What color is my shirt? What color is my oatmeal, Daddy?"

But she never asks "What color is this person, Daddy?"

And consequently, our attempt at social engineering was completely lost on Emalee, who was unable to understand my explanation of the federally subsidized housing voucher program. At first, I thought she was getting it because she was paying such close attention, but then she interrupted my description of the application process with a question that was somewhat off the topic.

"What color is your shirt, Daddy?"

I abandoned efforts to further engineer this project, and decided to leave the living arrangements at the doll house to Emalee’s discretion. To her, this meant that all of the dolls made up a single family which just happened to be blessed with two daddys and two mommys. While I’m sure that this would please the more enlightened stockholders of the Fisher Price company, I am not sure that they would approve of the sleeping arrangements at the doll house. True to form, Emalee decided that the African-American daddy and the Caucasion daddy should sleep together in the double bed "because they both have blue pants."

And thus was born the first interracial homosexual relationship in a Fisher Price dollhouse. I don't think Martin Luther King ever had a dream about this. And if he had, it wouldn't have been the sort of thing he'd be making speeches about. Otherwise, J. Edgar Hoover would have had him for lunch.

I think maybe for her birthday, we’ll just get her a tricycle.

Rob Hill is a syndicated humor columnist appearing first in the Tacoma City Paper in Tacoma, Washington.

email Rob at:

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