Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Once Bullied, Now an Inspiring Philanthropist

Eleven-year-old Zoe Terry was once bullied because of her skin color and "puffy" hair.  She now inspires other girls to love the skin they're in by donating Black dolls to needy girls.  Zoe is also in the process of creating her own doll line.  As a result of her appearance on Good Morning America, she now has a mentor:  Debbie Sterling of GoldieBlox.

Direct link to Good Morning America video
Link to text

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Melanites Jaylen Action Pal

Melanites Jaylen Action Pal Celebrates Brown Boyhood

Approximately a year ago, an interview with the founder and CEO of Melanites was published on my sister blog, Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black.  I was so impressed with the company's plan to create a line of dolls that celebrate brown boyhood that I immediately preordered their first Action Pal, Jaylen.

Jaylen arrived on Thursday, February 15, 2018, along with a brochure of other products, a 20% discount code off my next Melanites purchase, and a personal handwritten note from Melanites founder and CEO, Jennifer Pierre.

Before removing Jaylen from his colorful box, photos of the side panels and back of the box were taken:

"Celebrating Brown Boyhood" is on the left panel. An illustration of Jaylen appears on the back of the box along with introduction text that reads:

Meet Jaylen, a curious thinker who is always solving problems and creating new adventures!  Melanites Action Pals are the perfect companion for any adventure.

Additional information about the company, its mission*, and website address are on the right side panel of the box.  *"Our mission is to empower children to dream big, stand tall, and live out their childhood."

In the above photo, Jaylen remains attached to the light blue box liner that is decorated with several light bulb illustrations (because he is a thinker).  Removing him from the box liner only required snipping the plastic ties at his neck and ankles, which were protected by a thin layer of foam.

Jaylen is all vinyl.  He stands approximately 17 inches.  If positioned correctly, he can stand without the assistance of a doll stand.  He is dressed in a blue and gray striped T-shirt that has a Velcro closure in back, khaki cargo shorts, and red low-top sneakers.

Jaylen has brown acrylic stationary eyes with upper eyelashes.  His black-wigged hair forms soft curls; it is short on the sides and longer on top.

Closer look at Jaylen's hair
Jaylen is string jointed with articulation at the elbows, wrists, and knees.  His feet measure 2 inches x 1-1/8 inches.  His shoes measure 2-1/4 inches x 1-1/2 inches.  His toenails and fingernails are tipped with white paint.
Closer look at white-paint-tipped fingernails

A size comparison with 18-inch Journey Girls, Taryn, illustrates Jaylen's more slender body and slightly shorter height. 

Overall assessment:  Jaylen is a very well-made, handsome boy that will withstand boy play.  The production doll looks slightly different than the prototype:  the eyes are larger and the face narrower than the prototype's. I appreciate his medium brown all-vinyl construct and string jointed articulation.  I also admire the company's vision to create brown boy "action pals" to allow brown boys to see themselves in a toy and inspire them to use their imaginations to become problem solvers and "thinkers" like Jaylen.  Boys of all ethnicities will love Jaylen and girls will love him, too!

For more information about Melanites, click here, or to purchase Jaylen, click here.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

In Loving Memory of Ms. Phyllis C. Hunter

I need to place images in front of African American girls in order for them to see themselves in the best light. - Phyllis C. Hunter, Founder, Dolls Like Me Museum - Sugar Land, Texas. (Photo from Ms. Hunter's Facebook page)

Sadly, I was informed by private email that Phyllis C. Hunter, founder of the Black Like Me  Museum in Sugar Land, Texas, passed on February 4, 2018.  The reader reminded me that Ms. Hunter's museum was featured on this blog in June 2011.

Hunter was an avid collector of black dolls; but according to the reader, "She was not only known for Barbies (which I collect) but Dolls and Black Americana as a whole (cookie jars, cookbooks, memorabilia of all kinds, stamps, African artifacts, quilts...)"

She combined her love for educating and doll collecting by teaching Black history with her dolls and by founding the Black Like Me Museum where groups could tour the collection.

Beyond her love for Black dolls and Black Americana, Ms. Hunter described herself on Twitter as a "Reading and Literacy Educator.  Author.  Speaker.  Consultant.  Book Lover. Collector of all things African American."

The title of her book, It's Not Complicated!  What I Know For Sure About Helping Our Students of Color Become Successful Readers, aptly describes her passion for educating and promoting literacy in children of color.

According to the blog reader, who knew Ms. Hunter personally,  "I know I am definitely a smarter collector because of her and her passion was contagious!  Also, I was at her home when I went to Texas for the funeral and she had your books with her items.  I took a picture... So she was definitely a FAN of yours! She would always say... READ about what you LOVE and COLLECT and she did just that!"

Reading through the condolences on Ms. Hunter's Facebook page led me to photos of some of her dolls and sentiments left by loving friends:

AKA Barbie used as a lovely table centerpiece
Dolls by Christine Orange

Videos of Ms. Hunter's tireless work to promote literacy can be viewed here.

Rest in perfect peace, Ms. Hunter; your work here was well done.


Read the article that inspired my original post about Ms. Hunter's Black Like Me Museum here.

(Thank you, Ms. Jefferson, for informing me of Ms. Hunter's demise.)

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