View Full Version : Years later...

Black Man
02-23-2007, 02:08 PM
Black Kids' Self Image - No Progress by Marian Wright Edelman

In her new award-winning documentary "A Girl Like Me," 17-year-old New York high school student and filmmaker Kiri Davis recreates the famous "doll study" cited in Brown v. Board of Education to demonstrate harmful effects of racism and racial segregation on young children.

Davis said she wanted to test "how far we've come" in developing positive self-image and self-esteem among our children. But what she learned in her study was we haven't really progressed much.

The doll study was designed in 1939 by pioneering black psychologist Dr. Kenneth Clark and his wife and partner Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark. They would show a young child two dolls, one black and one white, and ask which doll was pretty, which was nice, and which was bad. They weren't surprised to find the white children they interviewed overwhelmingly preferred the white dolls.

But when they interviewed black children, they found two-thirds of them also said the white dolls were the nice, pretty ones, and the black dolls were bad. By the time Brown v. Board of Education appeared before the Supreme Court in 1954, the Clarks had years of data leading them to conclude racial segregation and negative images of blacks damaged many black children's sense of identity and self-esteem.

But how would these results hold 50 years after Brown? Davis' documentary shows the sad answer. In her sample of 21 black 4- and 5-year-olds at a Harlem childcare center, 15 children preferred the white doll - the same ratio the Clarks found in the 1940s and 1950s.

How painful it is to watch interviews with the children and hear their honest and simple answers. "Why do you think this doll is the nice one?" "Because she's white." "Why do you think this doll is the bad one?" "Because she's black."

One of the children, who had said she thinks the black doll is bad, is shown answering a follow-up question: "Which doll looks like you?" The little girl hesitates, touches both, and slowly pushes the black doll forward.

In the film, Davis interviews several of her peers - teenage black girls - about their ideas of black beauty. The girls all say since they were very young they've been exposed to the idea light skin and long straight hair make a black girl pretty. One girl said she always assumed she was ugly because she was the darkest person in her family.

The girls talk about friends who've tried soaking in a tub with a capful of bleach in the water and relatives who start using bleaching cream on their daughters at age 6 - stories that could have been shared by black girls 50 or 100 years ago. And for the small girls and boys in the film who said they would rather play with the white doll, how disappointing that almost 70 years after the Clarks' studies, adults haven't given them a stronger sense of positive self-identity and self-respect.

A provocative op-ed piece by columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., in The Miami Herald after Davis' film was released, argues that black adults share more of the blame for the results. But "[w]hat's different now is African Americans are, themselves, often the makers and gatekeepers. Under our aegis, the images have, in many ways, gotten worse.

02-23-2007, 04:27 PM
In her sample of 21 black 4- and 5-year-olds

duplicate thread

thats a real large sample to base a study on

02-23-2007, 04:28 PM
most people are stupid and ugly -- black or white.

02-24-2007, 12:20 AM
wow 21 people. so scientific.

maestro wooz
02-24-2007, 02:49 AM
this is probaly true anyways, but that "experiment" is real weak.