Rigorous
Volume Two, Issue 1



“THE Z&Z GIRLS”

Rafiki Chemari


In the summer of the year 2016 in San Francisco there was a very popular doll called ‘Snatch-N-Black’ and it really appealed to little black girls from the ages of 5 - 12 years old. The toy inventor had developed a unique way of creating very realistic African American hairstyles within the doll at the push of a button. This had never been done before even though other manufacturers had dolls with different types of hairstyles that could be lengthened, shortened, washed or dried. But the Snatch-N-Black doll’s hair was 100% natural! And if you have ever seen or gone to an African American hair care salon the process for chemical hair relaxing aka hair-straightening is quite involved especially with the application of the product.

Unfortunately, many black female customers have suffered severe chemical burns on their neck and scalp or have experienced hair loss from the sodium hydroxide (relaxer) if it is left on too long. Or if the neutralizer is not applied thoroughly in addition to rinsing the hair and scalp with lots of water. And that is precisely why so many African Americans both female and male have opted for more natural hairstyles such as: afros, hair-braiding, twists, and dreadlocks. So the Snatch-N-Black doll was also used as a learning tool for black mothers to begin the dialogue about hair care and straightening with their precocious daughters. In addition to the many white mainstream beauty schools and hair salons that had purchased the dolls to learn the process of (chemical) hair straightening to extend their client services to African Americans. So each doll actually had a hair (relaxer) and a hair (neutralizer) button which made it very easy to learn the technique but of course there were some people who had bought them just because they were cute dolls and made excellent gifts.

But during the holidays there were a few disturbing news reports that some of these dolls were found in the garbage dumpsters with their hair shaved-off and curling irons inserted between their legs. At first nobody paid much attention to that strange incident but as it got closer to Christmas it was much harder to find and purchase a Snatch-N-Black doll even though there was not a formal announcement in the media that the manufacturing had ceased. However, if you were lucky and owned a doll some people were willing to sell them for as much as $1,000,000.00 while many children were encouraged not to play with their dolls at all anymore and to treat them like collectors items.

However, there were these two little black girls named Zamora and Zingali who were sisters and they lived in a very nice neighborhood across the street from the University of San Francisco which was only two blocks away from the north side of Golden Gate Park. They were nicknamed the Z&Z girls because they zipped and zoomed around the block so fast while they were riding their bikes and skateboards. Zamora was 10 years old and Zingali was 12 years old and they played with their dolls a lot until one day a young man said that he had many different models of the Snatch-N- Black dolls. Consequently, both sisters were very curious even though their parents had told them never to talk to strangers but they also knew that it had been nearly impossible to buy any more new dolls since the holidays had begun.

Henceforth, the young man started to come around every day and bring his version of the Snatch-N-Black dolls that had even more exotic hairstyles. Finally one day Zamora broke her doll while trying to duplicate the same hairstyle from his doll and she knew that her sister Zingali would not share her doll because they were almost impossible to repair. So she secretly followed the young man on her bike after school and discovered that he lived at Ocean Beach near the Cliff House and he had a private workshop that was filled with all kinds of dolls. But his passion was in creating ethnic dolls, especially the African American dolls that exhibited current hairstyles and fashion trends in the black magazines.

Zamora was completely amazed and counted nearly 1,000 dolls! But she was very confused and she did not understand why there were pictures and snapshots of nude children right beside the Snap-N-Black dolls along with a few curling irons a some black hair care. Then all of a sudden she heard someone coming back and she hid in the closet that was also filled with a bunch of dolls. So she peeked out and she saw the same young man as he carried in a little girl with tape over her mouth and ropes tied around her wrists and ankles. Zamora was so scared and she tried not to move but the dolls took up a lot of space in the closet and they made ‘baby-noises’ if you touched them. They would laugh, cry, coo, sigh, and burp so when Zamora accidentally brushed up against one of the dolls it then set off a chain-reaction and several dolls began to cry at once.

Subsequently, when the young man opened the closet he discovered Zamora and he grabbed her and put her in a very large dollhouse next to the other little girl that was tied up. Next, he shaved both of their heads and then he instructed the girls to shave the hair off of the other dolls in the dollhouse and insert things between their legs including the curling irons. Unfortunately, after that day nobody had seen or heard from the girls and they were missing for several months. Finally after a year had passed most people had given up hope and had stopped looking for them except for Zingali because she felt that her sister Zamora was still alive. Then she asked the other children who used to play in the neighborhood, “What ever happened to the young man with the exotic black dolls?” They told her that he lived out by Ocean Beach and that he had his own doll shop and a factory. So Zingali lied to her parents and then she rode her bike out there and started looking for her sister by herself. It was very cold, dark, creepy, and foggy as the sand dunes had almost completely covered the Great Highway at Ocean Beach. The tide was extremely high as the sound of the waves crashed against the rocks and only the foghorn along with the light beacon had guided lost vessels from coming too close to the shore. The wind was very strong as signs, posters, umbrellas, hats, paper bags, weeds, and small plants were blown away and several trees had been uprooted. It was the last house on the left which was near the south entrance of The San Francisco Zoo.

Zingali parked her bike on the side of the street and then she came around to the back of the house where she saw the shed. The door was unlocked and she quickly went inside and she was immediately overwhelmed by the sight of so many dolls. It was like a museum with numerous shelves as she instantly had recognized the hair, the style, and the clothes of the Snatch-N-Black doll that her sister had previously owned. Then she briefly smiled at the doll as it brought back some happy memories that possibly her sister was still alive. But when she read the caption that was inscribed below the doll she was in a state of shock because it said: “THE Z&Z SISTAS OF SAN FRANCISCO.” Zingali was horrified and noticed how life-like the doll appeared as she picked up the doll package and saw its eyes and mouth open up wide.

Then suddenly the doll attempted to speak but there were hair clips, rubber bands, hair bows, and pins blocking the airway. So she removed the debris and the doll gasped and cried out, “Help me!” She could not believe it at first but it was her sister Zamora and she was barely alive but somehow she was mummified in hot wax just like a human doll. Her arms, legs, and torso had been cut so that she could fit in a box or on the shelf as part of a mad trophy collection along with the many other life-like dolls. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to save them all but Zingali broke a display case that had some of them trapped so that the ones that could walk followed her as she carried her sister out of the shed.

But it was too late as they all heard some voices coming down the back stairway. It was the same young man but this time he was carrying a big red sack just like Santa Claus except when he opened it up and emptied the contents on the floor there were four little black girls inside that were clutching their Snatch-N-Black dolls. They appeared to be five or six years old and they were dressed in cute little red outfits that matched their dolls for the holidays and it was part of a Christmas promotion at a department store. But tragically just 48 hours earlier the four little black girls had strangely disappeared or had been abducted from the department store and their parents had posted signs everywhere:

“HAVE YOU SEEN MY MISSING CHILD? THESE CHILDREN ARE MISSING!”

However, this time these four little black girls would put up a fight and they had an alliance of dolls to help them as Zingali had noticed that there were large barrels of wax near the furnace and the boiler. So as the temperature increased the wax became soft and it was ready to be poured into the doll casings that were stacked and located onto the conveyor belt below. It was basically a simple procedure but it required perfect timing along with the synchronization of all the mechanical equipment during the doll assembly and packaging process.

Moreover, the dolls had created a distraction as they started to move on the shelf and the young man said, “I thought that all of you were asleep! Or getting ready to be a Christmas present or a Kwanzaa gift for someone special? But now that you are all awake it’s just too damn crowded in here!” Then suddenly out of anger and complete frustration he tossed many of the black dolls into the furnace and the rest of them shrieked at the sight and the smell of burning flesh.

Consequently, when a few of the other dolls saw that monstrous act they jumped up and grabbed the pulleys overhead and swung to the other side of the room and either landed on the utility carts or on the conveyor belt below. Next, Zingali discovered the master-switch as she pushed it up which increased the pouring and mixing of hot wax and the speed on the conveyor belt until they were both out-of-sync and a tremendous fire began. Finally, Zingali and her sister Zamora were able to escape along with a few of the remaining Snatch-N-Black dolls and the four little black girls that were recently missing. The neighbors had called the Fire Department and The Police Department which was only a few blocks away but by the time they had arrived the shed had burned to the ground and the young man was not to be found anywhere.

Now two months had passed and it was President’s Day Weekend and another retail department store had a promotion for a new toy called ‘The Patriot Doll’. The models were 12 or 18 inches tall and they resembled either George Washington or Abraham Lincoln wearing their uniforms with a choice of either carrying a union flag, a confederate flag, or both flags in collaboration with the present red, white, and blue design. The dolls were very popular with both kids and adults because the George Washington doll beat a drum and whistled ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ while the Abraham Lincoln doll had recited: ‘The Gettysburg Address’. But the most popular consumers of all were the many, many, different types of white supremacists groups that had grown in numbers to an astounding 917. They had bought the dolls online in large quantities and had used them in their marketing, rhetoric, and packaging of white separatist and Christian literature to attract new members and families all over the country. But what had been the most shocking aspect of it all was that they had tampered with the mechanism of both dolls so that they would say hateful and racist things about African Americans. Also they were sent as scare tactics to black families!

Unfortunately, the local authorities did not respond quickly enough to the few claims that the patriot dolls had been tampered with and should be investigated as a ‘hate crime’. So when Zingali and Zamora had received the two patriot dolls as birthday presents they were very happy and excited since they still both enjoyed playing with dolls even though the family had avoided them since the ‘Snatch-N-Black’ incident. But when Zingali opened her box the George Washington doll had, “I AM A PROUD SLAVE OWNER!” written on the flag and across the top of the drum while it rhythmically beat and whistled patriotically. Then when Zamora opened her box she found an Abraham Lincoln doll that was dressed in a grey confederate uniform. But instead of reciting ‘The Gettysburg Address’ it had a hip-hop message: “NO MORE NEGROES...BLACKS GET OUT...WE WILL KILL THOSE COONS... THEN HANG ‘EM ALL ABOUT!”

It was horrible as Zingali carried her sister Zamora and she ran outside crying and screaming as they looked for their parents or any other adult for comfort. But ironically, when they went next door they heard and saw a massive explosion as ten patriot dolls laid on the front lawn of a black church in bits and pieces. Next, they saw a school bus crash into a pole whose passengers were mostly black kids and in the driver’s seat there was a patriot doll. And when they looked up in the sky a blimp said,

“THIS IS THE LAND OF THE RED, WHITE, AND BLUE...NOT THE BLACKS OR THE BROWNS...OR THOSE GOD-FORSAKEN JEWS!”

And finally when the girls saw all of the anonymous packages that had been left outside at the surrounding homes and businesses they knew that something was terribly wrong. So next the girls headed in the other direction towards Golden Gate Park where there was a police station. But when they got to the police station it had been overtaken by a rally between the pro-white supremacist groups and the counter-protest groups. However, when Zingali and Zamora got closer to the rally they saw it was a feud between the patriot dolls and The Snatch-N-Black dolls! Both groups of dolls were fighting against each other because the inventor didn’t leave any instructions about who was in charge of things? Obviously, the young man was a genius but a sociopath for abducting black children and creating life-like dolls. But he also admired many aspects of popular black culture. So when he invented the patriot dolls no one knew if he had equated patriotism with white supremacy or an annihilation of black dolls?

Moreover, both groups of dolls continued to fight and argue as Zingali and Zamora observed them. The George Washington dolls demanded that they were the superior group because they were crafted in the image of ‘The Father of our Country. That he had created America and that he had brought the Africans over here to serve the white man. Also it was his face on the one dollar bill and that 12 presidents had slaves...and that protocol carries over into the doll-world. Next, the Abraham Lincoln dolls had reminded everyone about ‘The Emancipation Proclamation’ and how many black and white soldiers had fought for the union and for the abolishment of slavery. And that his face was on the five dollar bill!

But when it came time for the Snatch-N-Black dolls to speak out about who was in charge of things. They got volatile and showed a video of all of the police brutality, hate crimes, and the countless shootings of black males. Then they insisted that both of the patriot dolls were oppressive and represented the past: “Which was a constant reminder of racism and white supremacy. And that we must do our part as black dolls to assist in the removal of all of the white confederate statues, flags, monuments, busts, plaques, books, and the patriot dolls of that era”.

Then all of a sudden Zingalis’ phone rang which had disrupted the rally. “Mom...help!” And Zingali ran out of the police station while carrying her sister down ‘Kennedy Drive’ which was the main boulevard in Golden Gate Park. Then all of the dolls quickly pursued them because they didn’t want their secret to get out. They had torches, dynamite, homemade bombs, sticks, bats, and guns which they had kept in a secret armory as they chased the girls through each area in Golden Gate Park: The Tennis Courts, The Carousel, Stow Lake, The Aquarium, The Japanese Tea Garden, and Bison Meadow.

But the girls had a plan as they lead the dolls to ‘The Old Windmill’ which had been restored with two additional moving parts. And as the dolls got closer they got sucked in by the centrifugal force of the blades and they got chopped up. Soon afterwards their parents had arrived with the police and the media as all of the dolls were destroyed or recalled. And anybody who continued to buy, sell, or trade them would be fined and imprisoned but the president kept two patriot dolls in the White House on Capitol Hill along with some very historic American firearms.


Rafiki Chemari: "I am an African American female, a native San Franciscan, and a first-time unpublished writer. I am also a local member of the Screen Actors Guild and ASCAP Music Publishing. "




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