Thursday, February 5, 2009

President Obama as the latest Chia Pet. . .What?

Recently, a non-customer of decided to take it upon himself to shut-down, a multicultural online toy store.

This gentleman was incensed that the CEO of the company, Denise Gary Robinson, would endorse and sell dolls produced by the Ty Doll Company – the company responsible for producing the Beanie Babies and other popular iconic dolls. He considered such a pronouncement as sacrilegious, disgraceful and exploitative of Malia and Sasha Obama.

With this thinking, a firestorm of emails both pro and con concerning whether or not the girls are being exploited by this company arrived in the inbox of customer service department. To add to this brewing firestorm was First Lady Michele Obama’s statement that she too felt that her girls were being exploited. Mrs. Robinson immediately responded to the gentleman and articulated her position on the subject; however, again she was met with his unwavering hostility. No explanation was good enough for this individual – his objective remained steadfast – the boycotting of

For the past three years, has been the oasis in a multi-cultural desert and has consistently offered an extensive selection of toys and dolls of color for multi-cultural children in addition to offering essential information for adoptive parents trying to understand the cultural nuances of their children. receives on a daily basis, the gratitude of parents from around the world whom are not able to find either the products or information provided by to address their children’s particular cultural needs. DLM is not a Web site or business that is even remotely worthy of such negative actions in response to the Malia and Sasha dolls.

Mrs. Robinson was not driven by the bottom line in her creation of her online multicultural toy store; she is driven by a greater cultural-psychological reality: that children of color – girls in particular – deserve to see themselves as positive role models that are worthy of respect and can be considered beautiful, just as are others, whom are considered the standard-bearers of American beauty.

I must admit that I take issue with any individual that would attempt to drive out of business a Black woman who is serving the multicultural community unlike any White retailer has ever thought necessary to do. Declaring war on a company that is the only one of its kind because of a decision to sell two adorable dolls that have the same names and not likenesses as the Obama daughters, is at its best intolerant and at its worst culturally counterproductive. Is this same anger and intolerance being aimed at Toys’R’ Us or any other of the many toy stores which will carry this doll? No, the primary target here is a woman whose toy company celebrates all children of color and whose sole objective is to make sure that these children in particular are consistently exposed to positive images of themselves; and that their parents have the option to purchase those items that will make positive imagery a sure possibility for their children.

I respect the gentleman’s right as well as others for being concerned about the Ty Company’s decision to use the Obama girls’ names in order to turn a fast buck. However, we live in a capitalistic society that unfortunately in its worst configuration, is based upon the exploitation of something or someone at any given time. Fortunately, not everyone is out to make a fast buck or to be exploitative. Sometimes the objective is bigger than what is obvious; sometimes the objective is to educate.

Notwithstanding all of the above, I now turn to the real reason for my thoughts for today. I can’t help but wonder if that same gentleman has decided to put out of business the owners of the Chia Pet company for its most disrespectful and outrageous unveiling of the latest Chia Pet – President Barack Obama. Not has there ever been such a deplorable and despicable example of visual disrespect for a sitting president in the United States. As a matter-of-fact, has there ever been a Chia Pet based on a human being before? This novelty item in and of itself, is too clear an example of how even the president of the United States can be relegated to inferior representations.

For some, what is stenciled into the United States Constitution still remains a validation for denigrating and diminishing a person of color’s character and achievements. President Barack Obama has done everything that America has asked of all Americans to do according to our constitution. This human being, President Barack Obama, has ascended to America’s highest office; yet, without foresight or the consideration of cultural correctness, President Obama is relegated to the status of a caricature – a happy or determined face (comes in these two styles) with an afro of greens growing out of its head. And like the Malia and Sasha-named dolls, it can be pre-ordered on in advance of its release on April 1 ( April Fool’s Day – what an appropriate date).

I would hope that the gentleman who wants to shut-down for its position on why the Malia and Sasha dolls are so important to America’s psyche, will have as much indignation with this kind of untenable disrespect for our sitting President. Let him take his outrage to the Web site of the mega online store,, to express to them how they too should not be allowed to remain in business because of the items that they carry and/or sell.

Finally I would ask the gentleman, to let there be no discrimination in your discernment of what really matters and for whom can legally engage in the American process of capitalism. I would ask the gentleman to let capitalistic freedom ring.

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