black-dolls-event_web.jpgSpecial to South Florida Times

A women’s organization dedicated to lifting self-esteem and pride among black women by stressing the beauty in different skin tones, recently visited Little Haiti with a special Christmas delivery for Haitian girls, many of them survivors of that country’s devastating earthquake earlier in the year.

The initiative came from the Black Doll Affair, started in 2007 by Dana Hill, an Atlanta-based model, journalist, marketer and publicist.

The group has grown to include women of all ages and sizes who volunteer their time and efforts to provide young black girls black dolls to boost their confidence and awareness of their beauty.

Girls aged 1 to 15 years old got dolls of all hues at a ceremony held Dec. 18 in hopes that they will relate to the beauty of being children of color.

Hill said in an interview that the organization makes its rounds to as many worthy causes as its resources allow, but the children affected by the earthquake in Haiti were a special case.

Gepsie Metellus, executive director of the Sant La community organization, 5000 Biscayne Blvd. in Miami, said Hill contacted her about hosting the doll giveaway.

“This idea of black beauty — expressing it and representing it — was important because I think our girls in the Haitian community are subject to a lot of self-doubt and are bombarded with images of beauty that they can’t necessarily process,” Metellus said in an interview. “They aren’t always in an environment where someone is telling them they are beautiful, so when we were offered this chance we jumped on it.”

Karen Gray, president of the Black Doll Affair Florida chapter, said the group looks for community organizations to partner with and the Sant La event was a natural fit.

“This year, with the devastation that the Haitian people have endured, it was just the right time and place to give these little black dolls some extra love for the holiday season. It could not have been more appropriate if it were ordained from above,” Gray said.

Hill said by increasing the supply of and demand for toy black dolls, her organization has increased the self-esteem of little girls everywhere.

“Dolls are more than toys,” she said. “They're a reflection of who we are.”

Gray is hoping to increase membership in the local chapter of Black Dolls Affair and form alliances with other organizations. It has already formed links with the Wilke D. Ferguson Jr. Bar Association and the Caribbean Bar Associations.

“This is the second year that these lawyers and judges of all races have stepped up to support our mission with a generous donations of dolls to our organization,” Gray said.

•  For more information on the Black Dolls Affair, visit

Brandyss Howard may be reached at

Photo courtesy of The Black Doll Affair. Black Beauty: Little girl plays with dolls at the Black Doll Affair event at Sant La community organization in Miami.