Makers of “My Friend” Doll Hopes to Bring Positive Messages to Battle Racial Stereotypes

Makers of “My Friend” Doll Hopes to Bring Positive Messages to Battle Racial Stereotypes

- in 2023 Editions, Magazine, May 2023

During 2020, in the midst of COVID-19 and the George Floyd protests, seven-year-old Demetrius Davis, nicknamed “Lil Dee,” and his mother Luciana Gilmore had conversations surrounding racial discrimination in the United States. 

Demetrius of Twinsburg, wanted to make a difference, with the help of his mom, to spread positivity among brown and black children.

Gilmore says her son repeatedly asked when she would curate something specifically for young boys. They decided on a doll and were soon creating the first edition.

“The first and second prototypes were not very good,” Davis says. “The third prototype was amazing and outstanding.”

Originally, Gilmore designed the doll to have on a cardigan, nice dress pants, and nice shoes.  But, Davis heard about Trayvon Martin, 17, who was wearing a hoodie when he was killed in 2012. It began a hoodie movement to bring awareness to young black men being targeted for what they wear.  Lil Dee expressed interest in having the doll wear a hoodie.

“Demetrius said ‘let’s put him in items of clothing that are normal for young boys,” Gilmore says. “We wanted to take the stigma away from young boys wearing a hoodie or jeans or boots or whatever is considered urban kid wear. These clothes are associated with being a ‘gangster’ or a ‘criminal’ and we wanted to take that stigma away.” 

The duo decided to call the doll “My Friend,” inspired by a doll Gilmore played with growing up called “My Buddy.”

“We are introducing to the world a friendlier version, an accepted version of how brown boys should be accepted,” Gilmore says. “We are your friends. We are not the enemy.”

“We offer the doll in many different skin tones,” Demetrius says. “We have lighter skin tones and darker skin tones so you can choose the doll that you want.”

Parents can now buy a doll that includes a personalized voice box of Lil Dee speaking and saying positive affirmations.

“Parents can go online and say ‘hey, my son’s name is Mike.’ So the voice box could say something like ‘hey Mike, you are brown boy joy, you are smart,’” Gilmore says.

The mother-son pair want to motivate and inspire every young brown boy and let them know just how special they are. 

“I want people to take away from my company that brown boys, black boys, black men, they can do anything that white people can do,” Demetrius says. “They’re all equal. They’re all special.” 

“I would like the world to take away from our company the power of representation,” Gilmore says. “For brown boys to see positive messages of themselves as opposed to the negative stereotypes that they hear.”

The doll, “My Friend” from Our Brown Boy Joy,  is available at Target online and 

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