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Black Dolls/White Dolls and Issues in Identity

Monday, January 1, 2007

I recently came across a blog called Black Intellects when I was looking for issues on white privilege. I came across a post on her blog called “A Girl Like Me” about issues of identity in America and the pervasivness of white culture in mainstream society and how it affects people of color. Many whites can’t understand how privileged they are because they are not people of color and because they are effected by their white world view. But the reality of white privilege is very real for millions of people (actually, everyone) across America. In the blog Mary M. writes:

in the mid-1980s Hofstra University researchers Darlene Powell-Hopson and Sharon Gopaul-McNicol found that two-thirds of black children in the United States and three-quarters of black children in Trinidad still preferred white dolls over black ones.

Also:

When asked to choose the brown doll, the white doll, or no doll at all, ten of the sixteen students selected the white doll as the “nice” doll. Eleven labeled the brown doll as the “bad” doll. Even though the children had demonstrated that they could distinguish between the white and brown dolls…

These posts show the reality of what it’s like growing up in America as a person of color. While much of the classic Jim Crow racism of the past doesn’t exists any more, thanks to strong efforts by people of color during the Civil Rights movement and before then, racism still exists, people are still being exploited, and many are affected by the prevelence of “white is right” in society. Mary than goes on to go over a dialouge between a researcher and a young Black girl

“And why does that look bad?”

“Because she’s Black,” the little girl answers emphatically.

“And why is this the nice doll?” the voice continues.

“Because she’s White.”

“And can you give me the doll that looks like you?”

The little girl hesitates for a split second before handing over the Black doll that she has just designated as the uglier one.

Image From:
filo sofa

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