A Wisconsin mother has come out in defense of a video she shared online showing her two daughters playing with dolls of a different ethnicity.
Katie Nachman, 29, told INSIDE EDITION that the video is meant to broach the difficult topic of racism in America.
The idea to buy her daughters the dolls came after she saw a video of two white girls who broke down in tears when they discovered they got black baby dolls for Christmas.
“I thought it was extremely hurtful and I thought it was kind of just a sign of what’s wrong in this country, that people would think it’s okay to post something like that,” the mother of three said.
So she posted on Facebook a video of her own children, who were “positively thrilled” to receive black American Girl dolls for Christmas.
In the video, eight-year-old Aden and four-year-old Phoebe explain why they like their new dolls.
“I like how they look,” Aden adds.
When asked to further talk about the dolls’ appearance, Phoebe says: “They have hair and they have eyes.”
Neither child mentions that the dolls look different than they do.
“I didn’t really think anything was unusual about that. They’ve been playing with racially diverse dolls and toys for their entire lives, so they didn’t really think anything was unusual about it, either,” Nachman told IE.
Nachman, who will graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison this spring with a Master’s Degree of social work, said she originally posted the video to begin a dialogue with people she knew.
"White parents have an obligation to teach our kids about race from a young age, so they won't grow up to perpetuate the cycles of institutional racism and injustice that are eating away at our country from the inside," she wrote on Facebook.
By Tuesday, the video had been shared more than 53,000 times and had received nearly 120,000 “likes.”
Though the response to video has been overwhelmingly positive, Nachman said she has received backlash from online critics.
“Some white parents do understand [the video] but a lot more are saying, ‘I just can’t believe this is a thing. I can’t believe this is an issue. I teach my kids to love everyone and we don’t see color.’ And that’s kind of offensive, because if you’re saying that you’re blind to someone’s color, you’re saying that you’re ignoring it," she said.
Nachman has partnered with the non-profit A.R.R.O.W., or the Alliance to Reunite and Repair Our World, to petition for American Girl to produce the first African American Girl of the Year, a new doll the company releases annually.
“A Girl of the Year has never been African American and I just wonder what that says to the little black girls in this country who, year after year, are hoping that the girl will look like them, and are disappointed every January,” Nachman said.
Steven Jones, founder and executive director of A.R.R.O.W., commended Nachman for efforts.
"What Katie is dong is ushering in an alternative narrative about how we view race," he said. "'Color blindness' is a major, major problem. Why? Because it fails to acknowledge the reality and history of exploitation and oppression."
By Tuesday, the Change.org petition had more than 1,000 signatures.
"American Girl is proud to feature one of the most inclusive and diverse selections of dolls and stories today, and we appreciate the trust our fans have in us to create a particular item," a spokeswoman for American Girl said in a statement to IE.
Nearly 40 percent of American Girl's dolls "reflect racially diverse choices for girls—featuring light, medium, and dark skin tones," the company said.
The company is set to introduce a new African American historical character, Melody Ellison, this summer. Ellison's story will take place in 1964 Detroit during the Civil Rights Movement.
Nachman said that any progress that can come from the attention her video has received would make it all worthwhile.
“We’re talking about little children who may not feel good about themselves because they don’t see themselves as represented as beautiful in the media. So I think anything that can change that, even a little bit, is the right thing to do," she said.