As a prize for a month of successful potty-training, two-year-old Sophia Benner picked out a doll she loved at a local Target — but when she and her mother got to the checkout, a cashier tried to talk her out of her purchase because Sophia is white, and the doll she picked out was black.
Sophia's mother, Brandi Benner, described the incident in an Instagram post on Saturday.
While we were checking out, the cashier asked Sophia if she was going to a birthday party. We both gave her a blank stare. She then pointed to the doll and asked Sophia if she picked her out for a friend. Sophia continued to stare blankly and I let the cashier know that she was a prize for Sophia being fully potty trained. The woman gave me a puzzled look and turned to Sophia and asked, "Are you sure this is the doll you want, honey?" Sophia finally found her voice and said, "Yes, please!" The cashier replied, "But she doesn't look like you. We have lots of other dolls that look more like you."
Benner wrote that she was about to respond to the cashier when her daughter jumped in with a succinct, and perfect, explanation. "I immediately became angry, but before I could say anything, Sophia responded with, 'Yes, she does. She's a doctor like I'm a doctor. And I'm a pretty girl and she's a pretty girl. See her pretty hair? And see her stethoscope?''
Sophia's mom told CNN on Monday that her daughter "loves giving checkups" and is "is already a doctor" in her mind — which is why she fell in love with a doll dressed as a doctor. It clearly didn't matter to Sophia whether or not she and the doll had the same skin color.
Dolls have historically been used as a method for gauging how children see race — the famous "doll tests" experiment of the 1940s used dolls to measure whether black children had picked up on harmful messages about race from the segregated world around them.
But in this case, at least, the only person who cared about the doll's race was the cashier, and Sophia told her off perfectly.
"This experience just confirmed my belief that we aren't born with the idea that color matters," Benner wrote on Instagram. "Skin comes in different colors just like hair and eyes and every shade is beautiful."