Episode 87: Black Dolls Matter, with Ozi Okaro of Ikuzi Dolls

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We’re talking with Ozi Okaro, founder of Ikuzi Dolls, a line of 18″ dolls of color that are available with different skin shades and hair textures.

Amy, Ozi, and Rebecca with an Ikuzi doll
Amy Oztan, Ozi Okaro (holding an Ikuzi doll), and Rebecca Levey

Check out this week’s sponsor, eSalon. The professionals at eSalon create hair color formulated just for you! Visit eSalon.com/parenting and get 50% off of your first box.

Intro

Rebecca got the new name right this week of Amy’s blog – sort of. Whether you go to AmyOztan.com, AmyEverAfter.com, or SelfishMom.com (her old site), you’ll end up in the right place.

And Andrea is off traveling somewhere, we’ve lost track of where! Have fun wherever you are, Andrea.

Black Dolls Matter

Four dolls of color from Ikuzi Dolls

Ozi Okaro has joined Rebecca and Amy in the studio to talk about her company, Ikuzi Dolls. Ozi is a mom of four living in New Jersey. Born in Canada, her background is Nigerian, which helped her come up with her company’s name – Ikuzi means “to teach” in Nigerian.

“For me, growing up, it was a challenge to find dolls that look like me.” Once Ozi had two daughters of her own, she was still frustrated with what was out there in terms of diverse dolls. So, with help and funding from friends and family, she started Ikuzi Dolls.

Founded in 2014, and available online since last year, Ikuzi dolls are 18-inch dolls of color, similar in size to American Girl Dolls. They come with beautiful dresses in African-print fabrics, a variety of different hair textures, and several different skin shades. Ozi modeled the dolls after her daughters, and she’s delighted that other people think the dolls look like their own daughters. She’s even had significant interest from Latino and middle-eastern parents, since some of her lighter-skinned dolls look much more like their daughters than most white dolls do.

We’ve all seen that iconic picture of the little African-American boy touching President Obama’s hair, just to confirm that it felt like his own hair. It’s so important for children to see themselves represented in the world in positive ways.

 

Ozi agrees, and sees the effect her dolls are having on little girls. “We get a lot of pictures sent in, girls taking pictures with their dolls, and they’ll style their dolls like them, and take pictures. And they’re saying the same thing: These dolls represent us. We can relate to them.”

Other companies have tried to represent African American girls with their dolls, but it’s usually just a darker version of the dolls they already have. Ikuzi dolls are coming from a much more authentic place, and aren’t just a token brown doll in a sea of white dolls.

So what’s in store for the future of this innovative company? Expanding to more looks. “The shades of black beauty are very varied, and so it’s going to take a long time to satisfy everyone. We’ll try our best. My goal is to make sure every little girl can go and pick up a doll and play with it and love herself, and just appreciate the doll and relate to the doll and identify with the doll. That’s pretty much our goal.”

Ozi has offered a generous 15% off for our listeners! Go to IkuziDolls.com and enter code PARENTING at check out. These would make amazing gifts, so get your holiday shopping done early!

Ikuzi doll with storage case

Bytes of the Week

Amy’s link this week is a trippy virtual reality experience for Google Cardboard, a 360-degree music video of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. If you don’t have Google Cardboard you can also watch it as a 360-degree YouTube video. Be sure to plug in headphones, because the sound has been integrated with what’s happening in the video – coming from different places depending on where you’re looking.

Behind the Scenes: The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience

 

There’s also this promo video from this year’s Tony Awards, also in 360, where you can scroll the video to look in any direction.

Hamilton: An American Musical 360 – Wait For It

 

Rebecca’s byte is a literal bite, a video from Real Simple showing an easy method for separating pomegranate seeds from the fruit.

And the food talk led to all sorts of tangents, from a misconception about what’s really in Libby’s canned pumpkin, to this hilarious video review of Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie. Enjoy!

Patti LaBelle review

 

Episode Links

Ikuzi Dolls – use code PARENTING for 15% off!

When a Boy Found a Familiar Feel in a Pat of the Head of State, By Jackie Calmes – New York Times

Michelle Obama talked about a black child who touched Obama’s hair. The photo is amazing. By Tara Golshan – Vox

The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience, for both Android and iOS

Google Cardboard

Google and Queen turned Bohemian Rhapsody into a VR experience, by Adi Robertson – The Verge

Behind the Scenes: The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience

Hamilton: An American Musical 360 – Wait For It

How to Remove Pomegranate Seeds – Real Simple

Pumpkin Lie, by Kim LaCapria – Snopes

My Review On Patti LaBelle sweet potato pie review, by James Wright Chanel

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