Black and White,  Doll Stories



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.