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Friday, August 13, 2010


by Aaron Gillego

a poem in response to CNN's special: "Kids on Race: Doll Study Revisited"

Julia turned six today
and she celebrated the American
way--hot dogs, pizza, french
fries--at a bowling alley
with friends her own size.
Dressed in ruffled pink
like Tinkerbell, she was poised
to play and win: to roll
a ball and knock things down
and score points--training
for real life, I suppose--
as Pheona and Abby chanted
her name, she beat them
at their own game without
even realizing it, without a care
in the world. None of them
could count past twenty
and they're too young
to keep score.

When the party was over
Julia opened her gifts:
one was a Barbie doll
with turquoise eyes
long brown hair and un-
fair skin, a mermaid
though I don't recall a brown
mermaid in the movie.
Julia loved the toy, she
brushed its hair and didn't care
about its soy-colored skin--
akin to each of us there
around her. It appalled
my sister: who had given
the doll, she wondered,
then gave us a question
to ponder: given a choice of color
Barbie--white, black or brown--
which would we choose?
The answer is a matter
of what you're willing
to win or lose.

Aaron Gillego resides in Miami, FL, where he teaches high school English. He pursued his MFA in Poetry at the University of Miami. He has been published by The Advocate and has contributed four poems previously to The New Verse News.