FLORENCE, Ky. — No matter where you live, racial inequities have been the center of conversations in our country.
That's why when a mother found a nationwide store selling dolls of different races at different prices, she wanted to know how that could still happen.
Asheria Brown of Florence, Kentucky, wants to teach her three children their African American heritage.
So when her oldest daughter spotted a Kid Connection doll set at Walmart, she decided to search online for a Black version of the same doll set.
"She picked out the white one, with all white little babies in the store," Brown said. "So I went home and went to Walmart.com and found one set in white and one in Black."
But then her jaw dropped when she saw the price of the Black doll set.
"They were 14 dollars and 97 cents more expensive than the white babies I saw in the store," she said.
It wasn't a one-store error. She found the exact same price discrepancy on Walmart.com, and captured a screenshot.
"There are seven Black babies and there are seven white babies," she said of the two doll sets. "But one set is $39.97; the other is $25."
Not an isolated case, professor says
This is not the first time shoppers have found pricing discrepancies between white and Black toys.
With Black dolls less common, and often hand-crafted, Duke University professor (and doll historian) Dr. Sabrina Thomassays she has seen them sometimes cost more.
"The problem, I believe," she said, "when we look at these discrepancies in pricing is that toy manufacturers do not produce Black dolls in proportion to the number of people in the human population."
Back in 2014, a father of a 6-year-old girl came to us with a similar complaint after finding Target selling a Black Barbie for twice the price of the same white Barbie.
"When my daughter asked the question why is the Black doll more expensive than the white doll, I really didn't have an answer for her," he told us at the time.
Target apologized for what it called a web pricing error, and since that report, has priced all Barbies the same.
Walmart apologizes for error
In this case, we contacted Walmart, where a spokeswoman told us:
"We lowered the price on a select group of toys, including only one of these dolls, to help drive sales. Unfortunately, we overlooked the impact these changes would have on similar items. This was an unintentional error and we sincerely apologize to anyone it may have offended." (See full statement below)
They have now adjusted the prices online, and both sets are the identical price,
Deb Britt, founder of the National Black Doll Museum of History and Culturein Boston, says pricing discrepancies will end only when enough consumers complain.
"People have to go like this woman did, and address it with store managers, to make sure this doesn't happen again," Britt said.
Asheria Brown just feels moms like her should not have to complain so "they can show their kids that they can have a baby that looks like them without paying an extra $15 to do that."
FULL WALMART STATEMENT:
“The price difference in the two items was the result of price changes made systemically. We lowered the price on a select group of toys, including only one of these dolls, to help drive sales. Unfortunately, we overlooked the impact these changes would have on similar items whose price did not change. This was an unintentional error on our part and we sincerely apologize to anyone it may have offended.
Walmart is a firm believer of diversity and inclusion. As a company, we are investing resources and developing strategies to advance equity for all within our walls and society.”
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