Store in Rio de Janeiro charges more money for white doll than black doll

Organization will investigate the influence of race on doll prices


afro brazilian women


Entity may appeal to the Public Minister if artisan doesn’t equalize the prices of white and black dolls in Ipanema.

RIO – The State Council of Black Rights (CEDINE) will send three representatives to the Feira Hippie store of Ipanema (in Rio de Janeiro) on Sunday to check the price difference between black and white cloth dolls. As reported by journalist Gois Ancelmo in his column for Globo, a tent in the store charges R$85 for a white doll and R$65 for a black doll, although the two are practically equal.

Price tags: R$85 for the doll on the left, R$65 for the doll on the right

CEDINE’s president, Paulo Roberto dos Santos, said counselors will try to get with the owner of the tent and for an explanation of the difference in price. If the arguments are not convincing, and if the owner refuses to review the figures, the board may issue a complaint of discrimination to the prosecutor.

The lady who was in front of the tent last Sunday failed to produce a convincing argument to explain the price difference. This is not the first time a price controversy between two dolls of different races has caused controversy. During Christmas of 2006, the manager of the store Amigão in the neighborhood of Madurai (also in Rio), did not hide the fact that it sold white dolls of the same model and manufacturer for twice the price of the black ones because of less demand for the black dolls.

“We have decided that before any action, on Sunday we’ll go there to examine the situation a little closer to see if it has anything to do with prejudice. And we will, first, convince the person to approach the situation with equality. If she refuses, we will make a formal complaint to the prosecutor and seek the Public Defender”, Paulo Roberto dos Santos said.

Paulo Roberto dos Santos of black rights organization, CEDINE

The decision to go to the store was made at a CEDINE meeting which was attended by representatives of the Council of Black Entities of the Interior of the State of Rio de Janeiro and the Association of Quilombo Communities of the state of Rio de Janeiro.

This case is similar to situations I’ve seen before in American stores. 
So there are a few things to consider in this case: 

1) Although the black rights organization argued that the dolls are “practically equal”, they are not quite the same. The case would be stronger if the dolls were dressed in exactly the same manner and as we can see, they are not. 

2) Question: In a country where cases of subtle and overtly racist acts happen everyday, is it racist for a store to sell two dolls, one black and one white for two different prices?

3) Question 2: In a country where images of beauty are routinely embodied by white people, is it the fault of the store or the society when more value is placed on the white aesthetic?

4) Question 3: From a purely business perspective, is it wrong for a business to raise the price of an item if it in fact outsells a similar item?

5) Question 4: If the Public Minister argues that the discrepancy in price is in fact based on race, what should be done? Should the price of the white doll be reduced? Should the price of the black doll be raised?

6) Question 5: Although it could be argued that the price discrepancy is reflective of the higher value given to whiteness in Brazilian society, it is also true that on average, white Brazilians earn about twice the salary as black Brazilians. If it is true that it more Afro-Brazilian families would buy the black doll for their children and black people indeed earn less half the salary of whites, should they simply accept the price of the discounted doll? 

I’ll keep my eye on this case. But for now, what do you think? Feel free to leave a comment. 

About Marques Travae 2897 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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