Thursday, October 15, 2009

MSNBC's Doll Test

This panel met at Howard University to discuss the black doll - white doll test. For those who are unfamiliar, the famous doll test was a survey taken years ago, where black school age children where asked positive and negative questions about black and white dolls. To sum things up, the kids overwhelmingly preferred the white dolls. The test was run again recently with the same results.
Panelist joining Brian Williams included: radio host Tom Joyner, author Michael Eric Dyson, entrepreneur Malaak Compton-Rock, screenwriter Kriss Turner, writer Kevin Powell, and columnist Mike Barnicle. Tim Wise, the Director of the Association for White Anti-Racist Education (AWARE) and Rev. Buster Soaries.

MSNBC's panel needs improvement. In that, it is understandable that MSNBC's intended to get a well rounded diverse panel to discuss race, but they missed the mark. Chris Rock's wife is not a scholar. Although she's seems to be quite active with charity work, but she needed to be a black female counterbalance to Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. There are some great black female scholars like Dr. bell hooks, Dr. Alice Walker, Dr. Toni Morrison, and Dr. Francis Cress that have written, researched, published, and presented scholarly works on black female images and popular culture.

Mike Barnacle and Brian Williams should have been required to read Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, before they even opened their mouths. None of the panelists have any idea how painful it is to be black, female, dark and ugly. Chris Rock's wife is too beautiful to know how painful it is to be considered ugly by society.

One more criticism on this panel. Who the hell invited the police! I guess if we're gonna talk about black folks then we need to call the cops. WTF! While I can deal with Chris Rock's wife, and Micheal Eric Dyson......the cops are just too much. It just subliminally reinforces the criminal stereotype of blackness. Negrophobia propaganda rears it's evil head once again.

Lastly, why the heck is Mike Barnacle on the panel? If MSNBC must give a white male voice, there are some excellent scholars on the subject like Eric Foner, David Bryon Davis, David Blight, et al.

If MSNBC is going to teach, then there are some great professors that do this for a living they should cast their nets a little wider for panel discussions.

Costco's Lil' Monkey Doll

Costco Wholesale Corp. on Thursday apologized to any of its customers who may have been offended by a doll the company pulled from its stores after a complaint about possible racist connotations.

The doll wore a headband that said "Lil' Monkey" and was cuddling with a stuffed monkey. The "Cuddle with Me, Doll with Plush Monkey" doll came in Caucasian, African-American and Hispanic representations.

But shortly after the toys were put up for sale in late July, Costco received a complaint from a customer in North Carolina concerning the version of the doll that showed an African-American baby with the monkey.

Costco immediately pulled the doll from its shelves and discontinued the product. The Issaquah, Wash.-based retailer said the doll was carried only in its Northeast and Southeast regions and the company's Web site and was only for sale for a matter of days before it was pulled.

A number of reports and Web sites have criticized the retailer for carrying the product, and Costco said it apologizes.

Kenneth and Mamie Clark's Doll Study

Segregation Ruled Unequal, and Therefore Unconstitutional
Kenneth B. Clark & Mamie Phipps Clark

Psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark Ph.d demonstrated that segregation harmed Black children's self-images. Their testimony before the Supreme Court contributed to the landmark Supreme Court case that desegregated American public schools: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KS


In their groundbreaking studies, Kenneth and Mamie Clark investigated black children's racial identification and preference. Using drawings and dolls of black and white children, these researchers asked Black preschool and elementary school children to indicate which drawing or doll they preferred and which drawing or doll looked most like them. They also asked children to color line drawings of children with the color that most closely matched their own skin color. The Clarks found that Black children often preferred the white doll and drawing, and frequently colored the line drawing of the child a shade lighter than their own skin. Samples of the children's responses illustrated that they viewed white as good and pretty, but black as bad and ugly.

Clark and Clark concluded that many Black children at the time (1939-1950) "indicate a clear-cut preference for white and some of them evidence emotional conflict when requested to indicate a color preference. It is clear that the Negro child, by the age of five is aware of the fact that to be colored in contemporary American society is a mark of inferior status. A child accepts as early as six, seven or eight the negative stereotypes about his own group."


Until 1954, public schools were racially segregated, meaning that Black and White children could be forced to attend different schools. A Supreme Court ruling from 1892, Plessy v. Ferguson, legitimized these children's "separate, but equal" educations. With the help of Clark and Clark's research findings, that illustrated the effect of prejudice and discrimination on personality development, the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education were able to show that segregated schools were inherently unequal, and therefore unconstitutional.

Clark and Clark's research prompted several future studies about racial identification and preference among minority children.

Practical Application

The impact of their research is evident in the court's unanimous decision, as written by Chief Justice Earl Warren: "Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the Negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has the tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of Negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system." In short, segregation failed to provide Black and White children equal protection under the law — a protection guaranteed by the 14th amendment. Segregation was therefore deemed unconstitutional. Chief Justice Warren noted Kenneth Clark as one of the "modern authorities" on which the decision was based. This acknowledgment was significant because it was the first time that psychological research was cited in a Supreme Court decision and because social science data was seen as paramount in the Court's decision.

source: American Psychological Association, May 28, 2003, Revised July 2007

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Doll Cultural Study

Black doll White doll

The Barbie Doll Test

White Doll, Black Doll. Which one is the nice doll?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Zora Neale Hurston: TURPENTINE CAMPS

by Zora Neale Hurston

Well, I put on my shoes and I started. Going up some roads and down some others to see what Negroes do for a living. Going down one road I smelt hot rosin and looked and saw a “gum patch.” That’s a turpentine still to the outsider, but gum path (sic) to those who work them.

It was not long before I was up i (sic) the foreman’s face talking and asking to be talked-to. He was a sort of pencil-shaped brown-stained man in his forties and his name was John McFarlin. He got to telling and I got to listening until the first thing I knew I was spending the night at his house so I could “Ride the Wood” with him next morning and see for myself instead of asking him so many questions. So that left me free to ask about songs go (sic) the turpentine woods.

“No, Ma’am. they don’t make up many songs. The boys used to be pretty ad (sic) about making up songs but they don’t do that now.”

“If you don’t make up songs while you are working, don’t you all make some up round the jook?”

“Mo (sic), ”mam, its (sic) like I told you. Taint like saw-mills and such like that. Turpentine woods is kind of lonesome.”

Foreman McFarlin had me up before five o’ clock next morning. He had to wake up his camp and he always started out about 5:30 so that he had every man on the job by 6.

Turpentine DipperItalic
Every man took his tools, went to his task-whatever he was doing when he knocked off at 5:30 the afternoon before, he got right on it in the morning. The foreman had 18 men under him and he saw everyone in his place.

He had 5 chippers, 7 pullers and 5 dippers and a wood-chopper. All the men off to work, John McFarlin straddled his horse, got one for me and we began riding the wood. Talking about knowing his business!

Turpentine Chipper

The foreman can ride a “drift” and with a glance tell if every “face” on every tree has been chipped. First he rode a drift of virgin boxes. That is when a tree is first worked, it is a virgin box for three years. That is the finest rosin. The five men were chipping away. The chipper is the man who makes those little slanting cuts on pine trees so that the gum exudes, and drains down into the box. He has a very sharp cutting tool that heavily weighted in the handle and cunningly balanced so that he chips at a stroke. The company pays a cent a tree. We stopped and watched Lester Keller chip because he is hard to beat anywhere in the world. He often chips 700 or more trees a week.

A puller is a specialized chipper. He chips the trees when they have been worked too high for the chipper. He does this with a chipping axe with a long handle knows (sic) as a puller. The foreman explained that the tree are chipped three years and pulled three years then it is abandoned. Leroy Heath is the champ puller.

He inspected a drift that was being dipped. The men who dip take the cup off the tree, scrape out the gum with the dipping iron and put it back in place and pass on to the next face. The dippers are paid $.85 a barrel for gum and 10 barrels a week is good dipping. Dan Walker is the champ. He can dip two barrels a day.

The wood-chopper cuts wood for the still. Wood is used to fire the furnace instead of coal because the company owns millions of cords of wood for burning in trees that have been worked out.

McFarlin explained that thee(sic) is no chipping and dipping from November to March. In November they stop working the trees, scrape the faces, how(sic) and rake around the trees as a caution against fire.

The foreman gets $12.50 a week, the foreman’s house, all the firewood he wants and all the gardening space he wants. He said shyly that he would raise(sic) in wages, but feels that he will not get it. He wants to know if the Government is sending people around to make folk pay better wages. He hopes so.

Visit to Aycock & Lindsey, Turpentine Camp, Cross City, Florida

ZORA HURSTON, August 1939

Zora Neale Hurston worked for the WPA, collecting folklife and folklore from Floridians throughout the state. She is pictured here collecting music from French and Brown.

Photograph was part of a 1985 traveling exhibit called "Pursuits and Pastimes". Reproducted from the collection of the Library of Congress. Forms part of series S1606, Florida Folklife Archive, Photographs and Slides of Folk Arts, Artisans, and Performers.


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