Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Tale Of Two Colored Barbies - When People Project Themselves Upon A Global Supply Chain

NewsOne: WalMart Sells Black Barbie Doll At Half The Price Of The White Doll
This is a synopsis of a true story that has been paraphrased to fill in some of the gaps that are unknown to the author.

On or about April 2009, there once was a Chinese manager at a factory in mainland China.  He came to work one day and printed out the production run for the day from his computer.   During the morning meeting with his two line managers he handed one of them a page from the production run which instructed him to mix up a batch of plastic which has "white" coloring components.   He handed the other sheet of paper to the second Chinese line manager asking him to make an equal sized batch of plastic but making use of a "brown" coloring agent. 

These two line managers when to their respective workstations and forwarded the instructions for the day to their group of Chinese workers.  Thus the workers went to the store room and acquired the appropriate ingredients and mixed and melted the batches of plastic as they were instructed to do so.  After the mix was brought to the proper temperature and consistency each batch was moved to the next phase of the operation.

The batch was poured into an injection molding machine.  The mold was largely the same for both production runs - one producing a "white plastic figurine"  the other producing a "brown plastic figurine".

After the mold was cooled - each figurine was sent down an assembly line where a sewing machine-like contraption inserted nylon strands into the heads of the dolls.  The brown doll got black nylon.  The white doll got golden yellow strands of nylon rammed into the top of the plastic that resembles the human head.

The next phase of the production the figurines where sent down a line where Chinese workers with small paintbrushes and stickers painted the lips, eyes and finger nails of each of these plastic figurines.  They added small articles of clothing that were also made by other Chinese workers.

At the completion of the production run these figurines were stuffed into cardboard packaging.  The packaging itself had been printed up at a different factory in China.  Since none of the people there spoke English, the language on the package - they depended upon mark-ups that had been produced in an English speaking language to insure accuracy.  To them these words were merely ink splotches on the cardboard that they printed - in this Chinese factory.

With the figurines inspected and packaged they were loaded in bulk and placed into a shipping container.  A Chinese truck driver dutifully drove the container to the sea port.  The parcels were loaded upon the ship.  The ship sailed from China to North America.  The goal of the supply chain was to have these figurines on the store shelves by the beginning of November 2009.   Upon arrival at the seaport of Los Angeles CA the container sat until some human came to initiate the next phase in the supply chain.

On January 2nd, the close of the "2009/2010 Holiday season" - the Walmart chain had a detailed computer model of what was sold and what remained on the store shelves.   With their advanced computerized inventory control system they are aware of everything about the store.  They know what they can raise the price upon and thus gain profit per the consumer demand.  They know what items to lower in order to increase the sales volume.

This system is so accurate that two identical pairs of jeans or sneakers or different flavored packs of "Jello", residing side by side can be priced differently to match the calculations of this expert system that uses the principles of "Business Intelligence".  The Wal-Mart store has no "store room".  Thus all that it has in on the retail floor.  As seasons change all unsold items are either packed back up into a trailer and sent to a discount/closeout store or sold at significant discount to promote sales volume.   The human being merely prints out the stickers that this system has instructed him to do so and places it upon the items.  These items are either individually labeled or the sticker is put upon the shelf and the barcode is used at the checkout to register the price.

When People Project Themselves Upon A Piece Of Plastic

While this supply chain management computer system from WalMart has an abundance of business intelligence fed into it per the cash register transactions, the returns desk and the occasional manual override by the store manager - there is one thing that this highly complex and effective system cannot factor for:   the human sentiment by which a people project their own self-worth upon a piece of plastic that was made to look like them by the decisions of the Chinese manufacturing plant thousands of miles away.

When these people choose to see themselves as being "discounted" when the computer system chooses a price for the doll that looks like them - they have lost.

When these people fail to see that "their people" did not profit from the salary or the labor that went into the production of this figurine - instead the Chinese and the Walmart merely will receive less money in the purchase of a piece of plastic - they have lost.

When they fail to inspect the doll and make note that besides the hue - this doll does not have their racial features but is merely an enhanced caricature of them in line with standards of beauty not of their own - they have lost.

The various "White/Black" doll tests done over the years have attempted to show the damage that racism has caused the Black person.  It is my opinion that a new round of tests need to be done measure the effect of "outsourced consciousness" and the "racism chasers" that foment the focus on obtaining one's dignity via external struggles.

The Chinese worker and plant owners that manufactured both dolls - white and black - have profited greatly and have zero concern that an Asian doll was not placed on the shelf at Wal-Mart thus having the computer system define its VALUE.   They define their own worth based on their commercial enterprise.  The enterprise of satisfying the self-indulgent tastes of the Americans has proven to be rather profitable for them.

1 comment:

Darnell said...

Well it seems many Black girls don't want the Black doll still:

Maybe Wal-Mart should counter that some Black parents are the problem? Black girls don't all want the Black doll and Whites should not be blamed for picking the doll that has their hue.

I'm surprised Black folks don't thank Wal-Mart for the price break. I mean, there's always talk about Blacks being kept down, well now Blacks can have a Black doll at HALF PRICE. Call it a reparations discount!