I remember it so clearly. I must have been about 6 years old when my mother took me to the store to pick out any doll I wanted. We weren’t big shoppers so it was a huge deal to go to the store to buy a doll. I stood in the aisles searching their faces looking for the most beautiful and lovely doll of them all. Finally, I saw her. I fell immediately in love and proudly left the store to take her home.
It was the early 1970’s and we were living in Texas at the time. Sometime after my delightful new purchase my mother and I headed downtown Dallas on a public bus towards Neiman Marcus for my mom to get a haircut. I sat on the bus contently playing with my beloved doll. Soon I noticed my mother pulling me in close. I snuggled up enjoying the affection. Then later, I realized she wasn’t really releasing her grip.
As I looked around the bus, I noticed the angry faces of several of the adults around me. I was troubled and puzzled as they glared at me with hatred and contempt. I, with my blonde hair, my mother a red head and my little black baby doll sat silently on the bus. When we departed the bus, my mother explained prejudice to me for the first time.
I had lived most of my life in Japan in the bubble of a military base. I was accustomed to all colors, all races, and multiple languages all living cohesively together. I didn’t know that there was racial hatred in the world. I never realized I could be openly despised for loving my darling baby doll.
On the way home on the bus, I sat defiantly with my beautiful doll lovingly in my arms. I wasn’t going to back down or change my views based on the angry adults around me. I loved my doll, and the opinion of the others wasn’t going to take away my love.
Still today, I prefer to be hated for who I am than loved for whom I am not.
I was right to love my black baby doll when I was six. I still have fond memories of playing with her. My favorite was that my brother thought that I believed that she could talk. I carried on endless conversations with her, all of which I knew were pretend, but my brother thought I was serious. I loved to talk to her, even though she never talked back, but even more I loved listening to my brother try to talk sense into me too. There was a certain mischief in it that filled me with glee – something similar to the joy I took in being defiant on the bus with racists.