Wal-Mart Takes Heat for Black Barbie

Wal-Mart is under fire for a picture posted to a blog showing two Barbies—identical except for skin color—on sale for different prices, with the black doll listed on sale at half the price of the white one. The photo was first posted to FunnyJunk.com, a humor site, and then Guanabee.com, a Latino site that says the person who offered the photo said it was taken at a Louisiana store. Wal-Mart officials say items are routinely put on sale to move inventory and make room for spring merchandise. But critics say the corporate giant should have been more sensitive, absorbing losses from not selling the black dolls instead of putting them on clearance. A sociologist-blogger said the retailer should avoid sending “a message that we value blackness less than whiteness." She added that black parents are more likely to buy their kids a doll of a different race, but speculated that they might not see the appeal in a doll with darker skin color but stereotypically white features. Mattel says its new “So In Style” dolls, which are designed to more closely mimic black women’s faces, received a positive response.