Baltimore-based fiction writer and Goucher prof Kathy Flann reflects on her first significant relationship with a baby doll.
When I was four, my mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas.
“A black doll,” I told her.
She flashed a bemused smile. “Well, okay,” she said with a shrug. We didn’t know any black people. Maybe I had seen “Fat Albert” by this point, but I can’t be sure.
In my mind’s eye, this doll had long luxurious hair that I could comb. It had cheekbones and breasts. “Charlie’s Angels” had not hit the airwaves yet, and so I did not yet know that sexiness was so powerful that it could solve crimes. But the doll I imagined was not unlike a Charlie’s Angel or a Miss Breck girl — if any of them had been black.
I was a white kid from a whiter than white Midwestern family – a cocktail of Scandinavian, northern German, Irish, English, and French Canadian. There wasn’t a drop of Eastern European or Italian to add interest to the gene pool. We couldn’t claim, like everyone else did in the ’70s, to be one sixteenth Cherokee.
And I was the whitest of the “Flann clan.”