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Things We Saw Today: New American Girl Doll Claudie Is Dropping & She’s Living in 1920s Harlem!

Claudie (doll) on her scooter. Image: American Girl.

Like Barbie, the American Girl brand is kind of having a renaissance right now. I can’t really pinpoint where this renewed interest started but a few sources could be the 2021 rerelease of previously archived historical dolls and the surge of political memes related to the dolls in the first half of 2022. For those who only know them as the doll, the book series that accompanied the release of each character featured the girls coming into their own and learning to actively engage with the turbulent world around them. Now, they’re releasing the first historical doll in almost a decade, and her name is Claudie Wells.

Claudie (doll) hanging out in her father's bakery. Image: American Girl.
(American Girl)

Created by The Vanishing Half author Brit Bennett (who campaigned on this for years), Claudie is a child living during the Harlem Renaissance and is trying to figure out what her talent is at a time and space of flourishing Black art. This is very exciting for many reasons, but mostly because this will be the first Black American Girl historical character that is centered around a positive time. The 1920s for most Black Americans wasn’t great, but the heart of this doll’s story is still in contrast with the other dolls whose stories center on Civil Rights (Melody of the 1960s) and slavery (Addy of the 1860s). Each book and doll rollout is focused on historical accuracy and empowerment.

Accompanying her release, American Girl is donating $100,000 to the Harlem School of the Arts and provides the option to add donations to the school on the website. While this is a great project, I’m going to warn you right now that the adorable 1920s outfits, accessories (including a cloche hat and faux Baby Ruth), sets, and books cost hundreds of dollars. If you want to grab a copy of her first book, Meet Claudie, that’s sitting $15 to $20 depending on where you shop and is selling out fast.

(via Twitter, featured image: American Girl)

Here are some other bits of news out there:

  • Rapper and Activist Noname spoke on PBS NewsHour about community learning and solidarity. (via PBS NewsHour YouTube)
  • George Dawson Middle School and the larger Southlake (Texas) school district has ruled George Dawson’s memoir Life Is So Good inappropriate. Dawson was a famous Black man whose story of literacy at 98 champions importance of education. (via HuffPost)
  • Recently fired Warner Bros. Discovery staff members are speaking out and confirming that it’s a majority of people of color and their programs getting cut by new owners. (via The Daily Beast)
  • Amazon Studios has released a trailer for a new film based on Grady Hendrix’s novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism. (via Prime YouTube)

What did you see out there today?

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(she/her) Award-winning artist and blogger with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. Starting as an Online Editor for her college paper in October 2017, Alyssa began writing for the first time within two months of working in the newsroom. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3, Apex Legends, and CS:GO. Still trying to beat Saxon Farm on RCT 3 (so I can 100% the game.)