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How an aunt's search for a gift idea turned into a campaign for change

Rebecca Law searched for "black sock doll" ideas online and was shocked with what she found. She wants to flood Google's meta-data with her own sock doll photos to replace the first choices that show up when searching for Black and brown dolls.

'When you go online and see stuff like this it's disturbing,' says Rebecca Law

Rebecca Law with the niece she wanted to make a gift for. Her search for ideas on black and brown sock dolls opened her eyes to the need for better representation online. (Submitted by Rebecca Law)

A simple search for a gift idea turned into a campaign for change.

That's what happened for Atlin, B.C., resident Rebecca Law.

After returning home from visiting her family in Trinidad and Tobago, she wanted to make her niece a gift.

"I went online to learn how to make this doll," Law said."I wanted to make a brown doll because she's a brown-skinned girl."

"I searched 'black sock dolls' because I wanted to see what other people had come up with. The first options that came up were just flabbergasting. I was flabbergasted. They all looked like slaves."

Some of Law's sock dolls. "It just makes my heart so happy to know that I'm just like any other mom. Just like any other person That I'm seen. Everybody is beautiful. That is pretty much the point here for me." (Submitted by Rebecca Law)

Law told CBC that there were numerous antique stores posting "old mammy dolls."

"When you go online and see stuff like this, it's disturbing," Law said."I didn't know what to do. Obviously I had done something wrong. This is not what I intended to see."

Her next search didn't go much better.

"I changed the search and I put "brown sock dolls," Law explained. "What came up was just a whole page of [sock] monkeys. I don't represent as a monkey. I don't represent as a slave or a 'mammy' doll."

100 sock dolls

Law decided to turn a negative experience into a positive initiative.

First, she learned how to make her own sock dolls. Each doll takes a few hours to make. Most of the time is spent on styling the clothes and doing the hair.

Then she set a goal for herself: make 100 of them.

Law has a background in web design, so she built a website for her work.

More of Law's sock dolls. "I decided I'll take beautiful pictures of them and flood Google's meta-data with it." (Submitted by Rebecca Law)

"I purchased a website called "Black brown dolls" just in an attempt that it would propagate my dolls instead of the horrible options that were coming up," she said."I decided I'll take beautiful pictures of them and flood Google's meta-data with it to replace the first choices that show up when searching for black or brown dolls."

Law has a Gofundme page where people can support the campaign. She says she isn't doing this for profit and all of the money raised goes toward supplies. She is also asking people to make their own sock dolls and to send her a photo of it that she can add to her website.

Positive feedback

Since posting the campaign on social media, Law has received numerous message from people asking to buy a doll for themselves.

Dawson City resident Krystal Profeit commented, "These are incredible!!! Are they for sale?"

Melvina Jones who lives in White Rock, B.C., said she would like one for her baby girl as well.

Whitehorse resident Loralea Frizzell commented, "I ordered one. A boy for my boy. I can't wait to see it."

Some people just wanted to share their appreciation for the initiative.

Megan Markus wrote: "These are so amazing and I love that you decided to make a website so that other people wouldn't have to come across the racist and outdated images."

Christina MacMillan simply wrote: " SOCK IT TO THEM."

'Everybody is beautiful'

Law says she is doing this because there needs to be better representation of Black and brown people.

"I find myself crying silently in my own home when I experience a feeling of not being seen for who I am, or what I look like, or for being beautiful and unique. I don't want that for my niece. I don't want my sons to accidently Google black or brown anything to have it come up with something that hurts their soul like that."

Law says the support she has received from people has made her feel extremely grateful. In fact, during this interview, Law received a message from a fellow parent asking how they could make their own doll for their child.

"It just makes my heart so happy to know that I'm just like any other mom. Just like any other person. That I'm seen. Everybody is beautiful. That is pretty much the point here for me."

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