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Social Buzz: Charlotte-area toddler gives lesson on race and what matters

Two-year-old Sophia would not be deterred when a store cashier suggested she replace the black doll she wanted with one that looked “more like you.”

social-buzz-square-300x300The next generation is watching us, says Brandi Benner, a Charlotte-area mom who’s making national headlines following a memorable encounter inside a Target store in South Carolina.

According to some of her recent social media posts, Benner went shopping last week with 2-year-old daughter Sophia to celebrate the toddler’s potty training. As a reward for “going poop on the potty,” Sophia would get to pick out any doll she wanted.

After perusing the store’s selection, the little girl settled on one particular doll she especially liked – a lovely, black doll all dressed up like a doctor.

Did we mention that Sophia and her mom are white?

Nick and I told Sophia that after 1 whole month of going poop on the potty, she could pick out a special prize at Target. She, of course, picked a new doll. The obsession is real. While we were checking out, the cashier asked Sophia if she was going to a birthday party. We both gave her a blank stare. She then pointed to the doll and asked Sophia if she picked her out for a friend. Sophia continued to stare blankly and I let the cashier know that she was a prize for Sophia being fully potty trained. The woman gave me a puzzled look and turned to Sophia and asked, “Are you sure this is the doll you want, honey?” 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.” I immediately became angry, but before I could say anything, 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?” Thankfully the cashier decided to drop the issue and just answer, “Oh, that’s nice.” This experience just confirmed my belief that we aren’t born with the idea that color matters. Skin comes in different colors just like hair and eyes and every shade is beautiful. #itswhatsontheinsidethatcounts #allskinisbeautiful #teachlove #teachdiversity #thenextgenerationiswatching

A post shared by Brandi Benner (@leilani324) on

It also helps to know that young Sophia wants to some day be a physician, and she loves giving checkups to people who come to their family home.

Things got a bit dicey, however, when the mother and daughter reached the store’s checkout counter.

The way Benner recalls it, the cashier looked at the doll and then looked at her daughter and said, “Are you sure this is the doll you want, honey?”

“Yes, please!” the little girl replied.

But the cashier continued: “But she doesn’t look like you. We have lots of other dolls that look more like you.”

“She does (look like me)!” the toddler insisted. “She’s a doctor; I’m a doctor. She is a pretty girl; I am a pretty girl. See her pretty hair? See her stethoscope?”

Benner, who attended Olympic High School, Central Piedmont Community College and is CEO of a company in Lake Wylie, told CNN that she credits the TV cartoon “Doc McStuffins” with teaching Sophia the word “stethoscope.” But she credits Sophia for knowing what is important – that the doll’s skin tone didn’t matter, that she and the doll share the same aspirations.

Benner was relieved she didn’t have to defend her daughter’s choice and glad that Sophia wasn’t fazed by the cashier’s question.

She’s also thankful that the cashier, wisely, decided to drop her line of questioning.

“This experience just confirmed my belief that we aren’t born with the idea that color matters,” Benner said on a Facebook post that had been shared more than 217,000 times. “Skin comes in different colors just like hair and eyes and every shade is beautiful.”

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