I collect black dolls. Not for the same reason other people I’ve met do it. I don’t understand my fascination with them other than that I’m Cuban, and in my country, as a child, I really didn’t like being this white. I have always felt mixed races are more charismatic. In Cuba we have a kaleidoscope of colors, anywhere from onyx to milky white. I really think the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen are those with real dark skin who have almond-shaped aqua or emerald colored eyes. I went through a period in my life when I collected black dolls, preferably with light colored eyes, when I could find them. They were all over, taking over the house until I moved into a tiny apartment. Now I have only a couple left having given away most of them to my granddaughter. Perhaps I was so attached to them because when I was a child my mother used to buy these larger-than-life porcelain dolls that I was seldom allowed to play with lest they got dirty (talk about taking the “fun” out of dysfunctional). Maybe that’s the reason I loved these black dolls so much.
The black dolls were the beauty of my island and I could actually play with them when I chose to. Or on some abstract level I thought totally erased from my subconscious mind, it could have been that I had been involved in Santería, the Afro-Caribbean religion. Their entities or Orishas were given characteristics and colors, and they were given priority in a house, a room with an altar, fruits, special flowers—believers have these dolls dressed up accordingly to represent the Orishas. What surprises me is that I never got that into the religion to get dolls. All I know is that when I started collecting, my black Santería Orisha dolls became part of my family. They were companions of many meals prepared in my tiny kitchen until I had to let them go. They were the only dolls I felt I could handle without worrying and felt were mine.