Robin Hickman has been called a St. Paul “treasure.”
She’s a social activist, a TV and film producer, and a long-time leader in the African American community. But what makes Hickman most proud these days is her extensive multicultural doll collection, and how she uses it enhance the lives of others. On this morning, Hickman wears a green turtleneck and black leather jacket. She’s dressed one of her Barbies in miniature matching attire.
“Down to the gold earrings,” Hickman laughs.
Barbie dolls wield power for collector, acceptance for girls
As an African American girl growing up in St. Paul, Hickman had a hard time finding anything but blond, blue-eyed Barbies. Her current collection is proof times have changed. Among her 300 dolls are Cambodian, Nigerian and Mexican Barbies, as well as a vast array of African Americans. Some come with natural hair. Others have tiny rows of braids that set off their vinyl cheekbones.
“I don’t have children and I’m not married,” Hickman said, “But in my doll world, Robin is married to Marcus. The Marcus doll is Capt. Sisko, Deep Space Nine [from] Star Trek. The bald version. And Robin and Marcus have a daughter and son, Autumn and Marcus Jr. My doll world is a little world I can control when mine is out of control.”
At this point, some might roll their eyes. But Hickman doesn’t mind. For this 49-year-old, dolls are an escape, especially in times of despair. Last year, Hickman lost her mother, whom she refers to as the love of her life. It was the dolls that kept her going on her darkest days. “I did kind of keep the dolls out and just kind of held ’em,” Hickman said. “There’s power in holding dolls. And then I just found myself beginning to heal.” On a recent Wednesday morning at St. Paul’s Battle Creek Middle School, Hickman addresses a class of 8th grade girls.
She unpacks three huge bags of ethnic Barbies and asks students to select dolls that mirror their own skin tone and facial features. View entire, original article by Nikki Tundel.