Defining Biracial Dolls

Biracial Black-White doll

Opal – One of the Mixis dolls. Opal is Black Ghanian and White British

Growing up, our family self-identified as mutts. It was the standard answer that my family < Father (Russian – Polish with a bit of Irish) and Mother (Lithuanian – Austrian)>  gave when asked “where are you from?” Back in the ’50’s, this was a common question in the racially and culturally diverse neighborhood of New York City where I grew up.

Fast forward fifty years, and I’m scratching my head in this very ‘politically correct’ society we live in now, and I’ was trying to figure out how to best describe our dolls that were neither Black nor White, but in between. No one had ever asked us for an ‘in-between’ doll.

President Obama (Black and White)  – in a conversation about the first family’s search for a dog – had just declared to the whole world that he was a ‘Mutt.’

I didn’t think I wanted to use Mutt.

“Mutt Dolls for Sale!”
“Get your Mutt Dolls at The Pattycake Doll Company!”

At work there were two White women with Black husbands who had young girls. I asked them both: “If you were looking for dolls for your children on the internet, what would you type into the search window?”

Both said “mixed kids!”  100% agreement, right? Perfect!

I liked that a lot better than Mutt, except…. when I researched the search engine algorithms it was a ‘no-go.’ Google, Yahoo and Bing all agreed – practically nobody actually searched for ‘mixed kids dolls.’

No, what Google, Yahoo, Bing and the other search engines seemed to agree upon was that the words ‘Biracial Dolls’ was the way to go.

We’ve since added the words ‘multicultural,’ ‘multiracial’ and yes ‘mixed kids’ to our descriptions as well. The only thing we’ve never done is describe our dolls as mutts.

Mixed Kid’s Dolls & E-tail

An Asian, Black and Native American mixed race doll

An Asian, Black and Native American mixed race doll

E-tail is a really interesting word. It means having a store on the internet. And it represents two completely different knowledge bases; the first having to do with everything from Search Engine Optimization to Pay-Per-Click advertising to Google Algorithms. Phrases like title tags, alt image and html 5.

The second knowledge base has a lot in common with normal brick and mortar stores, things like inventory management, product turns and marketing budget; although there are some new concepts like long tail and shopping cart abandonment to know about also.

What both etail and retail have in common though, is customers. How to find them and let them know you carry the products that they are looking for. Although to be honest with you, with etail it’s more like how to let them find you.

One of the main tools etailers have to do that with is called ‘keywords.’ Those are the words that you type into the search box on your computer, tablet or phone screen.

For The Pattycake Doll Company, most of the time that is pretty easy. If you’re an African American mom looking for a doll for your three year old, you would probably type in something like ‘black baby doll.’

If you just came home from the hospital with a newborn baby boy, you might look for a ‘boy doll’ for his older sister to play with.

But what do Black/White parents search for. Or Asian/Black. Or Hispanic/Asian?

I have two friends who are White women married to Black men and with girl children, so I just went and asked them. Surprisingly they both answered the same thing: “We’d look for dolls for ‘mixed kids.’ Okay!

But when I went to my online research tool for keywords, Google and Yahoo didn’t agree; the search volume for that phrase was almost non-existent. Some look for Biracial, some look for Mixed kids, some look for diversity dolls. But not as many as one might think considering that more than half of America’s children are ‘non-white!

It makes my life interesting.