Black Barbie just declared her political party, and she’s likely to inspire young girls to one day do the same. On Tuesday, the iconic toy line unveiled a brand new set of dolls geared at exposing young ones to public leadership roles and piquing their interest in the political process.
“2020 continues to be a monumental year, and as so many of us are activating — from living in a pandemic and fighting for our families and communities in uncertain economic times, to dismantling racist systems and marching on the streets — we must use this as an opportunity to inspire young women and girls to lead,” Erin Loos Cutraro, founder and CEO of She Should Run tells ESSENCE.
Barbie teamed up with She Should Run, to bring forth The Campaign Team set, which gives Barbie new careers as a candidate, campaign manager, fundraiser and voter. Since 2006, the non-partisan organization has been encouraging and supporting women from every walk of life to run for elected office. Cutraro says the work is necessary in order to change the political landscape. While women make up 51 percent of the population, we represent just a third of the nation’s elected leaders. For Black women, we only have to look as far as the 116th Congress to see our representation is still lacking. While 127 women serve in the most diverse Congress to date, only 22 of them are Black.
Civil rights activist and attorney Marian Wright Edelman once said, “You can’t be what you can’t see” and in that vein of thought, both Cutraro and Mattel intentionally made the candidate for office a Black Barbie. “Diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of everything the Barbie brand does and we are dedicated to removing barriers that prevent the next generation of girls from reaching their full potential,” Lisa McKnight, SVP and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls at Mattel shares with ESSENCE. “We know women, and particularly Black women, are unrepresented in elected positions, which is why we featured a Black doll as the presidential candidate in this Campaign Team set.”
Beyond bringing representation to the Barbie line, the brand is also careful to point out that the set shows girls the importance of a political team working together to bring home a victory. That includes everybody from the candidate to the voter, whom Barbie made Latino to encourage voter turnout among those where voter representation lags behind that of white and Black voters. Amid COVID-19, Black and Brown communities are more than ever in need of leaders who are ready to work on their behalf. The pandemic is expected to have a lasting impact on our youth. Cutraro says “it is critical that we give our girls at home the support they need—early in life—to explore their voice and channel their energy to lead.”
The doll launch comes nearly 50 years after Shirley Chisholm’s historic race for the White House, on the heels of Sen. Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential bid, and a week after presumed Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden revealed he is strongly considering four Black women to be his vice presidential nominee. Times are changing and Barbie is adamant that their dolls reflect that. McKnight stresses, “We hope this set inspires all girls of color to see themselves in leadership roles and raise their voice, from the polls to the podium.”