A Real Sorority Doll Who's Pretty in Pink -- and Green

Alpha Kappa Alpha's newest pledge is Barbie, wearing a gown in the sorority's colors of pink and green. The doll was unveiled at the group's centennial.
Alpha Kappa Alpha's newest pledge is Barbie, wearing a gown in the sorority's colors of pink and green. The doll was unveiled at the group's centennial. (Courtesy Of Mattel)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Sindya N. Bhanoo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 14, 2008

Barbie has gone Greek.

They loved her pink dress with its streak of green, her jeweled heels and gold jewelry.

Yesterday, thousands of members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the country's oldest black sorority, attended a public meeting that ended with the unveiling of the AKA Centennial Barbie doll. The sorority was founded at Howard University. "She's absolutely beautiful," said Jenea Stewart, 30, an AKA member from St. Louis. "It's something that can be passed down through the generations, from mother to daughter."

Barbie has taken on many manifestations over the years, but this is the first time there is a Barbie to honor a sorority.

Although the doll is a fun way to commemorate AKA's centennial, it also has a serious undertone, said Barbara A. McKinzie, the sorority's international president.

She recalled that in the 1940s, psychologists used identically dressed black and white dolls to test black children's race perceptions and preferences. The majority of them preferred the white doll, saying it was better. The study was cited in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision of 1954.

McKinzie said that, even today, some black children suffer from inferiority complexes. "What a wonderful idea to take a known icon in our society and have the doll look like us," McKinzie said. "It's a way of educating the issue."

For AKA members, the timing could not be better. "Barbie has been through so many different stages of history," said Deidra Powell, a member from Sacramento. "It's so appropriate to pick Barbie at this time in our history."

One sorority sister, though, has a wish for the future.

"It would be nice to have a full-figured Barbie," said Nichole Lyles, 29, of St. Louis. "But she's coming soon, I'm sure. Before a hundred years are up."

The doll, which will sell for $50, will be available soon at http://www.barbiecollector.com.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company