Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Nice Doll

In the 1940's, Dr. Kenneth Clark conducted experiments to designed to measure the self-confidence of African American school children between the ages of three and seven when compared to the self-confidence of Caucasian children.

In these experiments, children were presented with four dolls that differed only in skin tone. The children were asked which doll they preferred to play with and which doll they saw as "good." Causcasian children, as might be expected, chose the Caucasian doll over the other dolls. In addition, African American children also preferred the Caucasian doll.

These results were seen to suggest that African American children saw themselves as inferior. In turn, the results of these experiments influenced the U.S. Supreme Court when deciding Brown v. The Board of Education, which abolished the legal foundations of segregation in U.S.

In the Spring of 2005, Kiri Davis, a 17-year old filmmaker, decided to repeat the same experiment and documented her findings in a film called A Girl Like Me. It's a short film (~8 minutes) and I ask you to take the time to watch all of it. (It starts one way, but hits you from a completely different perspective.)

I'm not sure I've mentioned this before, but I am not Kara's biological father. She knows she was adopted and has known this for as long as she's been a part of my life. Because of her biological heritage, I try to anticipate and learn about the questions she may have as she grows up.

This film shows me I have a lot to learn if I'm going to be a relevant--and reliable--resource for my daughter as she grows up. It discusses some important questions for parents in general. I think it offers a lot to think about and I commend it to your attention.

Photo credit: Kiri Davis

7 Comments:

Blogger Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

You are such an aware & awesome daddy to all our children, no matter their skin colour. Wonderful piece you posted. I love you ... JP

(ps. I had a typo in the previous post that I deleted -- yes, my Capricorn nature coming out!)

11:16 PM  
Blogger Shaz said...

Wow how aware and lucky your kids are. I have shown both my youngest girls and they both said how sad that it was that they feel that way, mum I wish my skin was darker.
I am not sure how to take that but being happy with the inside creates an understanding and appreciation on the outside.
I believe it all starts with moral teachings and awarness of self love no matter what your background. I too was adopted and dont need an ifinity with my background "NOW" but that was after I found it.
I needed it when I was younger something was missing. I probably would be different had I not contacted my natural parents.

Great photo work aswell, I really loved it(blog friends)

You have great ideas and convictions so glad for my Deb and for your babes.

4:15 PM  
Blogger whitesnake said...

Very thought provoking.
Now............If you take it a step further.....
The differences between gays and straights
Muslims and christians.........

It is actually very very common........

That whole post my friend was brilliant....

I look forward to the challenge I have meeting Morningstar at Freedom's Place.

The Vanilla man meets the Mistress.......I think I learnt something from your post.
For that I am grateful

2:14 AM  
Blogger Kindness (disarms the difficult) said...

Wow, that was one wonderful film and a fantastic post. Your kids are lucky to have such wonderful parents.

8:52 AM  
Blogger paris parfait said...

Thanks for the link - I will watch it and come back with comments later this weekend.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Chulita said...

Wow, I just watched the film and I felt so sad for those kids--especially that one little girl thinking that the "bad" doll was the dark-skinned one and when asked to give the doll that looked like herself she gave the dark skinned one. Those are the connections that our brain makes that are so difficult to unmake later. I hope those kids received some kind of counseling after that experiment. I would hate to think of that little girl walking about from that experience thinking she is "bad" because she is also dark skinned. I applaud you for posting this. All your kids are so fortunate to have such and deepingly caring and such an aware human being for a father. This world needs more people like you.

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is indeed a thought provoking film. Thank you for sharing it.

I almost envy your girls.

--Pet

7:04 PM  

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