Brandi Benner and her husband went to Target to buy their young daughter Sophia a special gift for a major milestone — pooping on the potty for one month straight. Little did they know that what started out as an innocent trip to the store would end up teaching them a valuable lesson about our society.
In a post that has since gone viral on Facebook, amassing more than 130,000 shares and over 320,000 reactions, Benner describes how an otherwise uneventful excursion to buy her daughter a doll took an unexpected turn once her family got to the register. Apparently the woman ringing them up was a bit puzzled as to why a young white child would want the doll Sophia chose — a black doctor doll.
“The woman gave me a puzzled look and turned to Sophia and asked, ‘Are you sure this is the doll you want, honey?'” Benner wrote. “Sophia finally found her voice and said, ‘Yes, please!’ The cashier replied, ‘But she doesn’t look like you. We have lots of other dolls that look more like you.'”
Benner wrote that the cashier’s comments upset her at first, but her daughter, in a moment of wisdom beyond her years, broke it down for the woman right quick. “Sophia responded with, ‘Yes, she does. She’s a doctor like I’m a doctor. And I’m a pretty girl and she’s a pretty girl. See her pretty hair? And see her stethoscope?'”
After Sophia dropped that nugget of knowledge, Benner shared that the cashier backed off and let the girl enjoy her doll in peace. “This experience just confirmed my belief that we aren’t born with the idea that color matters,” Benner wrote. “Skin comes in different colors just like hair and eyes and every shade is beautiful.”
People were clearly quite moved by the story, with many parents showing that their own tykes subscribe to Sophia’s worldview — they don’t care about the color of their dolls, just how awesome their dolls make them feel. Others came to share their own experiences buying dolls of various colors. It seems this cashier’s response was just a symptom of a larger problem.
“I had similar responses when my daughter always wants brown skin tone Cabbage Patch babies,” one Facebook user commented. “She usually carried two under each arm everywhere we went. An old man looked at me and said she must be confused; I told him she wasn’t confused at all.”
“Exactly how I was with my daughter with any other dolls,” another user wrote. “She had Asian dolls, white ones, Latina dolls … I loved that she picked those dolls out.”
Another commenter pointed out the greater lesson in this story — that colorism, racism, and prejudice is something that is learned: “A color is just that — a color. Children are so innocent. They don’t have hate in their precious little hearts. Sadly all of that including prejudice are taught in the home. Kudos to you, Mom. That darling little girl will never be raised in a home of prejudice.”
Save for some naysayers who accused Benner of making up the story (which she says she did not), the outpouring of support and love on her post seems to have taken her aback, in the best of ways. She followed up with another post soon after. “When I decided to share my experience about buying Sophia’s doll, I never thought for one second it was going to be seen by so many people!” she wrote. “I am absolutely blown away.”
Benner wrote that she believes the cashier spoke out of ignorance, which at best is problematic and at worst is seriously hurtful to some people. “I feel like in her mind she was being helpful and making conversation with my daughter,” the mom wrote. “I’m not saying her ignorance makes it OK, just proves her white privilege.”
We adults could learn a lot from Sophia’s example!