1 white doll & one black doll (speak volumes)

In the 1940s, the nation was captivated by an electrifying experiment by legendary sociologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark. They asked black children about two dolls, one white and one black. The majority — 63 percent of them — said they’d rather play with the white doll. Most said the white doll was nicer than the black doll and in the most poignant answer of all, 44 percent of the black children said the white doll looked most like them. “It was groundbreaking in that it sort of changed the way we look at race relations,” Harvard University professor William Julius Wilson said. “Here are kids who felt that being white was more beautiful than black. And that’s pretty devastating.” Fast forward to recent times, a high-school literature class caused Kiri Davis to construct “A girl like me” an anthology with a wide range of different stories that she believed reflected the black girl’s experience. For the different chapters, she conducted interviews with a variety of black girls in her high school, and a number of issues surfaced concerning the standards of beauty imposed on today’s black girls and how this affects their self-image. She thought this topic would make an interesting film and so when she was accepted into the Reel Works Teen Filmmaking program, she set out to explore these issues. She also decided to would re-conduct the “doll test” initially conducted by Dr. Kenneth Clark, which was used in the historic desegregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education. She thought that by including this experiment in her film, she would shed new light on how society affects black children today and how little has actually changed. With help from mentor, Shola Lynch, and the honesty and openness of the girls interviewed, she was able to complete her first documentary in the fall of 2005.

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