9-Year-Old Creates Plush Doll Line to Empower Black Boys
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It started with Demetrius Davis Jr. seeing negative stories about Black people on television. 

“I was watching the news one time and there were like these Black people in the news getting shot for no reason, and I’m like ‘Why?’” the 9-year-old told Cleveland 19 News. “My mom started talking to me about it and I was like, ‘We need to create a doll.’” 

Also known as Little Dee, that’s exactly what Davis did. 

To empower Black and brown boys, the elementary schooler created a line of plush dolls through his Ohio-based company Our Brown Boy Joy

My Friend, the name of the curly-hair doll with brown skin, adds missing representation to toy shelves. 

When Davis and his mother Luciana Gilmore searched for dolls for brown boys, they couldn’t find any. 

“Our whole purpose is for the world to know and see and view our boys as joy,” said Gilmore, a former school principal who serves as the creative director for Our Brown Joy. 

In less than a year, the company has sold nearly 10,000 My Friend dolls. He recites five different positive affirmations, including “You are strong” and “You are powerful.” And this doll, modeled after Davis himself, intentionally wears a hoodie.

“One of the things that Little Dee said right away was, ‘Mom, let’s put him in a hoodie,’ because we want to show that brown boys can wear whatever they want,” Gilmore said. “That doesn’t mean they’re criminals or bad because they wear a hoodie.”

Davis and Gilmore plan to expand the line to include additional skin tones and wardrobe options. 

Our Brown Boy also includes books and clothing.