Black People : THE DOLL TEST

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by phenomenalwoman, Aug 9, 2006.

  1. phenomenalwoman

    phenomenalwoman Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Jan 15, 2004
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    I got this email concerning a news segment on CNN, the transcript is below....SAD


    O'BRIEN: Coming up next, we'll tell you about a 17-year-old girl who's re-created the doll test. You remember that? Back in the 1940s and '50s? That's were black kids were asked to pick between a black doll and white doll. And they overwhelmingly chose the white doll. See how the children respond 50 years later. It's fascinating. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


    O'BRIEN: It was called "the doll test." Back in the 1940s and '50s, black preschoolers were given two dolls -- one white one, one black one -- and asked which they liked better. Most said they liked the white doll better. Well, now a 17-year-old high schooler and filmmaker has recreated that doll test. And I want you to take a look as she asks a 5-year-old girl, African-American, to pick the doll that she wants to play with. Listen and watch very carefully.


    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you show me the doll that you like best, or that you like to play with? And can you show me the doll that looks bad? OK. And can you give -- and why does that look bad?

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it's black.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh. And why do you think that's the nice doll?

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she's white.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And can you give me the doll that looks like you?


    O'BRIEN: Oh. That hesitation that is just brutal. Which doll looks like you? The filmmaker, Kiri Davis, joins us this morning, along with her mentor, documentary filmmaker Shola Lynch. Nice to see you both. Thanks for talking with us. Just as powerful as it was from the '40s and '50s. Thanks for talking with us about your film.

    Why did you want it recreate in your film this doll test?

    KIRI DAVIS, STUDENT FILMMAKER: Well, the film's kind of about the standards of beauty. It kind of looked at how they're imposed on black girls particularly, and I interviewed those kind of girls on these standards. And, like, you can tell people how these standards affect people all you want and how it might affect self-esteem or self image. But until you figure out a way to really show them and really show, like, with children, how it's, like, affecting them, that's when it really registers with people and that's when they finally really get the message.

    O'BRIEN: It's amazing. I mean, five years old. You almost think that they would be too young to really understand the messages. And the child's sort of nodding her head saying, no, it's not. Were you surprised -- virtually every black person I've spoken to has said I'm not surprised at all?

    SHOLA LYNCH, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER AND MENTOR: I actually was surprised. And I was surprised that a lot the kids that chose it's black doll as good were immigrant children from countries outside of the U.S. So what does that say about the U.S. media and what's being absorbed by these young people?

    But, you know, in terms of getting the message across, I'd like to say Kiri as a filmmaker -- what we focused on; my job as a mentee was to help her articulate her vision -- and we focused on what she could do. And the doll test was something that could be replicated. And so it was an amazing way to contextualize what these young girls were talking about in terms of their own self-esteem, standards of beauty, what they thought was good hair and bad hair, and to give it a broader and bigger sentence.

    O'BRIEN: In a way it's sad. I really should mention first that this program, which is called Real Works Teen Filmmaking -- it's an after-school program for high schoolers -- pairs high schoolers with mentors.

    DAVIS: Out in Brooklyn at the Y -- at the Brooklyn YMCA.

    O'BRIEN: At the Brooklyn YMCA is where you were working. I mean, in a way, what's so depressing is that things haven't changed. I mean, if years and years and decades later, we're still figuring out, well, what's good hair and what's bad hair? And who's got light skin and who's got dark skin? Which makes you pretty and which doesn't make you pretty? It's kind of depressing.

    DAVIS: You know, I went to two schools -- two day-care centers right out in Harlem where I did the tests, and...

    O'BRIEN: How did you pick them?

    DAVIS: I just -- I had volunteered there before. And basically I knew people that worked there.

    O'BRIEN: So sort of randomly?

    DAVIS: Yes. I got my permission slip signed and basically even though it was 50 years ago, many things, I guess, haven't changed. And even at four or five years old, you can tell what America values and what it doesn't.

    O'BRIEN: I thought it was interesting -- I read how you were preparing for the doll test. And had to go out and, of course, find a black doll and a white doll. And even that was hard.

    DAVIS: Yes. That -- just trying to find a white doll and a black doll that kind of looked the same, and go in different toy stores and try to get that, I just couldn't really find it. I thought...

    O'BRIEN: What, there were no black dolls in stock?

    DAVIS: There weren't that many at all.

    LYNCH: That's actually what I found so shocking. When Kiri came to me, and I said, well, let's go to F.A.O. Schwarz, check out Toys 'R Us...

    DAVIS: They didn't have it.

    LYNCH: They didn't have it.

    O'BRIEN: That is surprising. That is surprising. I want to remind everybody at the -- you can see this movie online. And I've seen it 15 times already this morning...

    DAVIS: Oh, wow. O'BRIEN: So I'm going to give everybody the URL, and I want you to write it down so you can quick, go and take a look. As soon as we're off the air at the end of segment, I'm going to give that to you. And our parent company, Time Warner, I should mention, also helped underwrite this whole program.

    So what does it say, in the big picture? I mean, what's the takeaway and how do you fix things? Or is it impossible?

    DAVIS: That's a good question. How do you fix things? Everyone wants to know. And I think just kind of acknowledging this issue, because at times, like, when I made the film it was almost too taboo to even talk about these kind of things that were going on, and these standards of beauty, or...

    O'BRIEN: Among black people or white people or both?

    DAVIS: I think both. Or in general, in American society, they kind of talk about these things. And that's why I kind of wanted to make a film about it. And so I think sometimes people do certain things, but it's subconsciously almost. And so I hope that kind of brings awareness to people, in terms of how they're kind of giving in to certain standards, or in terms of what children say.

    O'BRIEN: What did the people at the Y, when they saw their own students perform in that test and pick time again -- time and again...

    DAVIS: Oh, at the harbor (ph), the day-care center.

    O'BRIEN: Yes, at the day-care center. What was the reaction?

    DAVIS: They were pretty shocked. Some of them were crying and tearing up. It was a big surprise to a lot of people, I think. And just kind of realizing how these children were feeling and how things were affecting these children. And so they've like -- since then they've kind of altered their curriculum to try to make -- have more programs and stuff that will help with like self-esteem.

    O'BRIEN: Do you think that's going to help? Or is it a matter of, you still can't find a black doll when you go to F.A.O. Schwarz or any toy company?

    LYNCH: I think it's a matter of parents and school teachers educating kids that, you know -- that there is more about black culture than even the media. That if you know something about your history -- I mean, Kiri's parents have done an amazing job. She knew the doll test existed, that 1957 test...

    O'BRIEN: Most 17-year-olds do not.

    LYNCH: Most -- absolutely. So she has a base of knowledge that lot of teenagers don't have, and she was able to use that. Well, we need to know our history, our culture. We need to know we come from a long line of people who have been engaged and activists. You know, that we can't flatten that. For instance, the civil rights movement didn't just happen because one woman stood up. It was a movement that had been around for decades, right?

    O'BRIEN: Know your history is really the message there. I got to tell you, this is such a moving film. It's a beautiful film. I know you've won a bunch of awards. And you should be really, really proud of yourselves.

    DAVIS: Oh, thank you.

    O'BRIEN: And I promised I'm going to give out the URL so everybody can keep the TV on, but run to their computers, too. And you want to go to, is the URL.

    LYNCH: And, as well, is the program that Kiri was a part of that is funded by great organizations. Kids have a voice.

    O'BRIEN: Like Time Warner, our parent company.

    LYNCH: Absolutely.

    O'BRIEN: Kiri Davis, terrific job. Thanks for being with us.

    DAVIS: Oh, thank you.

    O'BRIEN: Also Shola Lynch. Thanks for being with us. We certainly appreciate it.
  2. Slowly

    Slowly Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Feb 20, 2006
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    electronic technician
    Pacific NW
    Did they use a real looking black doll or one of those white dolls with black skin?
  3. Geo64

    Geo64 Banned MEMBER

    Aug 3, 2006
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    If it is really the media. What shows are you letting your 5 year old watch? They are not interested in the local news. What shows are we letting our 5 year olds watch that would show them this.
    I think they see what is happening in our communities where they live and the way they are raised compared with white kids they see being raised on TV. They don’t get the time or attention with only one parent and with more children we don’t have the time to show them as much love