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“A Girl Like Me” (Participation)

January 14, 2012

Watch the video below and think about how this connect to the history of race as idea (as a fiction) and how it connects to the larger history of Jim Crow segregation.  In other words, how are findings here evidence of the ideology of white supremacy, the impact of segregation, and the historic fallacy of “separate but equal”



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  1. Hannah Zabel permalink

    It is scary to see the standards and stereotypes that are engraved in a girls mind at such a young age. Barbies and other dolls have set a standard of what is “beautiful” and women are trying to conform to these standards, through bleaching their skin as one girl explained and cutting their hair. Young girls are learning and believing that they are not beautiful due to the standard that these dolls hold… What has society done?

  2. Kaylie DeWitte permalink

    This video is evidence that black people, over the years, have had to accustom themselves to the white culture. One girl mentioned that their ancestors were ripped out of their own culture (African culture) during slavery and thrown into a white society. Over the years they’ve had to adapt to the changes and try and fit into a whole, brand new culture. Different ethnicity’s and societies have different values and beliefs, and if you’re put into a different society it becomes a culture shock and most will feel lost and/or less liked, making them feel like they need to change in order to fit in and be excepted. The girls who spoke in the video discussed how they felt that they weren’t as pretty or beautiful as white girls because of the color of their skin and the way their hair looked. In order to look beautiful, one needed to have white skin and natural straight hair that wasn’t super curly or looked kinked. Some colored girls even resorted to bleaching their skin so it wouldn’t look as black, and permanently straightening their hair. If girls feel the need to change themselves and believe that they aren’t as beautiful or perfect as the white girls, it just comes to show how inferior colored girls feel. It shows that when the ancestors were thrown into this white-superior society they felt as though they had to change themselves in order to be accepted and not looked down upon. Not many colored people these days know what their culture was like or what their values and beliefs are because of the fact that years ago, their ancestors and relatives changed their ways and adjusted to the culture and values that the white society holds. Children have been raised to think that white is good, and black is bad, or that white is beautiful, and black is ugly. It’s sad to think that that’s what the world has become, and that that’s the way people actually think of themselves. This is evidence showing the “separate but equal” fallacy because people of different skin color are now starting to be treated equal and have the same rights, but people still feel the need to look down upon them and hold high standards for them just because they look different.

    • Thanks for posts. Quick question: you mention the following: “Over the years they’ve had to adapt to the changes and try and fit into a whole, brand new culture.” Is this really about adjusting? How does one adjust to white supremacy? You talk about the messages taught by white supremacy in terms of beauty, and intelligence, and its links to separate but equal, but can we really talk about it as a result “adapting” to a new “culture.” Also, how might we think about this in relationship to Native Americans and Latinos?

  3. Alex Clark permalink

    It is pretty sad how society as a whole has engraved in these young girls minds that they are different than other young girls, when in fact they are the same. It’s unfortunate that people judge others by their skin color and give stereotypes just because of a different skin pigment. In regards to the “separate but equal” policy, this video just reinforces how that policy was a complete failure, and shows how unequal many African American citizens are treated throughout the world today.

  4. Michael Anderson permalink

    I think the issue might be more of a want to adjust rather than a need to adjust. Another good question to ask might be what is beauty? Obviously these girls and much of society think beauty is simply being white and having nice hair. In order to feel better about themselves these girls may want white skin and smooth hair only because society tells them that is what is beautiful. It is important to recognize that beauty comes in many different forms. Each culture and each race is uniquely different which is a good thing. Throughout years of stereotypes, these girls and many other people may simply want to fit into white culture in order to feel better about themselves.

    • Don’t you think the issue is about transforming society to value and appreciate differences; what we see in the video is that ways in which meaning (beauty in this case) is attached on to race; a fiction becoming real, no? Isn’t the transformation about society and the hold of race. NICE CONVERSATION — keep it up

    • Racharlle (Landa) Mendoza permalink

      Michael, I agree with you! “What is beauty?” is a GREAT question! Because even though these girls thought lighter skin and natural hair was beautiful… other girls may not! In the video, one of the girls state when some people see black girls they have issues but then said, “light skin girls also have issues”. The girls featured in the video were “black”. What if another video were to be made featuring “white” girls? Maybe they would think being beautiful is different.. being tan (DARKER). Or having “black” hair because its thicker or holds curls longer. You’re right! Beauty can be interpreted in many ways depending on various things (culture, personal opinion, etc).

  5. Maddie Steiner permalink

    The part that struck me the most was the use of the term “white” and “black”. All through school and throughout history the term “white” has always stood for good, pure, clean, etc, while the word “black” is associated with evil, dirty, bad, etc. When they re-conducted the doll test from Brown v Board of Education, they found that most black children preferred the white doll. When one girl was asked which doll was the bad doll, she said the black doll, because it was black. The connotations behind the terms “white” and “black” are so imbedded into our society that we don’t even realize the effects it has on people. Its sad that even in our progressive world today, people still feel that they are inferior to someone else because of skin color.
    Another part that struck me was the use of the term beauty and how the girls in the video didn’t feel beautiful because of their skin and hair. Hearing the girls in the video talk about the need to fix their hair because its not straight, or bleach their skin to look lighter to in order to feel more attractive is a sad result of the values our society has. I feel that the stereotype of beauty even effects those that aren’t colored as well. I remember when I was little I always wanted blonde hair and blue eyes because I thought that was prettier then brown hair and brown eyes. Our society has such narrow minded views on the term beauty that it makes a lot of people feel inferior.

  6. Josh Tyler permalink

    I just finished watching the video, and all I can truly say is that I am appalled to see how society has really transformed society’s outlook on different races. These kids being so young do not have a true understanding of whats right and wrong so they just go off what they are presented in everyday life, and to know that is that African people are “bad” and White people are “good” just based off their skin color is just wrong. As far as transforming society’s to appreciate the differences in they different racial groups, I don’t think it will ever be done because of all the attached stereotypes over the last 200 years that really has molded society’s look on a racial groups true characteristics. This video just goes on to show you that racism still is happening, maybe not in the open light but behind the closed doors where people are willing to “bleach” their skin to fit in.

  7. Olivia Newhouse permalink

    I think this video clearly demonstrated the idea of white supremacy. These young black children she used in the study mostly gravitated toward the white baby and distinguished the doll as “good” just because she was white. I think I don’t realize that white supremacy is still very apparent until I see video’s like this where black children have been shown or determined that being white makes you some how “better.”

  8. Racharlle (Landa) Mendoza permalink

    In my opinion, I think the discussion “beauty” or “being beautiful” is just a mask as to what is really behind this video – race and racism. This video is one of the many examples of how race and racism play into topics such as beauty. The girls featured in this video discuss what THEY think is beautiful and to me, it seems to be what “white people (girls)” tend to have. For example, most of them seemed to agree that society (along with their own opinions) believe lighter skin and natural hair is beautiful opposed to darker skin and relaxed or fake hair. One of the girls, Jennifer whom is 18 discussed how she was the darkest one in her family and how when she was little she always thought lighter skin was beautiful therefore, she was ugly. Also, another girl discussed how someone she knew had her 6 and 11 year old daughter use bleaching cream. Oh, and there’s the whole “black doll vs white doll” experiment… 15/21 children chose the white doll either because it looked nicer, prettier, or for other reasons. The point here I am trying to make is that even though this video was based on “beauty”, ones RACE had EVERYTHING to do with it! Which, I personally think is ridiculous.. but it is obvious from this video that society includes ones race in numerous topics.

    • Brittany Dyess permalink

      The reason they thought black was ugly and white is beauty, is because of the media as well as our history and how it glorifies one race over the other..the same with white supremacy,one race glorified over the other..For every black girl today, they battle the challenge of should i perm or be natural?and they do whichever seems more excepting to society and what they see most.And in regards of the bleaching, I think its crazy but alot of celebrities do it nowadays..just like how people go tanning(excessively) which confuses me as well.

  9. Katie Nelson permalink

    This video clearly demonstrates white supremacy, especially in the interviews showing that younger black girls didn’t feel as pretty as white young girls. This idea started many, many years ago but some how still strongly impacts our social interactions within society. Kids aren’t taught whats always right and wrong and follow as their parents or elders act, without knowing that they can be generalizing and stereotyping one race. I believe it will be fairly difficult to teach everyone to see people without the filter of their race or religion, due to the constant and perpetual segregation in society.

  10. Aaron Verhei permalink

    After watching this video it helps clear up and look at how the society views the people in it. These young women were talking about how they didn’t think they were beautiful because they were darker than the others, or because there hair wasn’t done the way it was suppose to. What really hit me was the fact that they were talking about people trying to bleach there skin so they could be lighter. What happen to everyone is created equal? we say that yet we judge someone based off there appearances. As a society we shouldn’t have to make people change so they can be accepted. It is clear that even though the law states everyone is equal and there is no segregation anymore the people in the society still do it. They still form there cliques and exclude people based on color, culture, and until people stop doing that i believe we will still see forms of segregation in the world.

    • Isn’t the video much more about the lessons that are being taught about beauty, about difference, about race. Whether from the media, education, or any number of institutions, isn’t about what is being taught and the consequences of those lessons?

  11. Kyla Chappell permalink

    After watching his video, it is very apparent that having white skin, for some reason, meant you were “better, nicer, prettier, etc”. This was not only recognized by white people, but black people too. Which in a way confused me, because blacks have always fought for equal rights and such, but then still believe whites are better? The doll experiment really saddened me, that majority of the black kids still picked the white dolls over the black dolls because they liked the white dolls better due to their perception of them being better and prettier. This video shows the lessons that are being taught to young children about beauty and the obvious consequences of such lessons.

  12. Madison McKenzie permalink

    After watching this video, I felt saddened by the fact that African American girls believe that they are not pretty simply because they don’t have a light skin color or straight, light or smooth hair. I feel like darker skinned girls are taught to put the physical attributes of white girls’ up on a pedestal and that they have to have the same physical qualities of a white girl to even be considered “pretty”. I liked the fact that one of the featured girls realized that white girls have their problems too, because no race is perfect, I feel like everyone wants to change at least one thing about them. The doll expiriment that was recreated clearly shows that African American children think that whites are “better” or “prettier”, because whether people notice it or not, racism still exists and it’s really sad that young children automatically think white means your “good” and black means your “bad”.

  13. After watching this video I feel completely sad for these young girls. The fact that the only way they think they will feel and look beautiful is if they have lighter skin and prettier hair is completely heartbreaking. Also when they did the test with the dolls I was completely in shock. It just goes to show what society has made these young children believe. The black doll is considered “bad” and the white doll is considered “good” to these young children, who has put that notion into their head? I think that society has and it is very unfortunate because when it comes to skin color there is no good or bad. Everyone is beautiful in their own way. That is what I believe and I think this video showed that white supremacy has been a big thing in our culture and it has effected young black children as well as I’m sure young white children into thinking black children are “bad”. It is very sad and unfortunate and I hope someday we can erase this image of “good” and “bad” and change it to EQUAL.

  14. Alex Carkner permalink

    Today, racism can be easily ignored because it seems like as a society we have come so far in the end to discrimination. This video helps show how very present racial stigmas still are. Children are supposed to be all that is innocent about mankind, however they still displayed tendencies towards a white skinned baby doll instead of the dark skinned one. Each doll was identical in size, clothes, and appearance except for skin color so it’s obvious that color was the factor in their preferences. It’s eye opening to see the myth of equality we cling to as well educated adults disproved by a group of grade school children. Looking back at our history, the United States is incredibly different from what it was in regards to discrimination but improvement does not allows equate to complete success. The change is good, no argument there, however, the battle is not over.

  15. Brittany Dyess permalink

    In the video, there is minimal evidence of white supremeacy and how it has affected african americans…there is way more.
    But The fact that African american children do idolize white barbies and baby dolls more than the ones they identify with most is unfortunate. It Hurt me to see the painful look the little girl had in her eyes after identifying most with the doll she called “ugly.”She was confused and im sure from then on she now has the thought in her head that she is ugly.

    White supremacy is also being shown by how one of the girls stated she didnt know anything about her culture and it hurts to know your from africa but not really knowing where “your from” culturally. If ones family is not from africa itself, and your african american, its very frusterating trying to answer the question,”where are your ancestors from,” “or “yes i know your black but what part of africa do your family come from.”most blacks dont know.Versus europeans they can trace there family back easily, and learn more about there history because we learn it in the classrooms.

  16. Gary Barquet permalink

    This can relate to the Jim crow laws simple because of the fact blacks were separate because of their visual differences. Said to be separate but equal was completely false because they were both separate and unequal. An example of that could be that the whites had better things for the most part, like more businesses and restaurants they could go to but blacks could not. Blacks were ripped out of their cultures and forced into believing what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, and even what is beauty and what is not. This caused some blacks to feel as if they had to prove themselves, make whites believe that they are not all ghetto, loud, wear weaves, less intelligent and all have bigger butts. Nobody should have to prove themselves to anyone, but it was force upon them, and if they don’t prove themselves to be more “white” they were frowned upon or a “typical” black.

    • Michael Anderson permalink

      It seems that this all was true because people look more at someone’s race than their culture. The video talked about black people not necessarily knowing their ancestral backgrounds. There are many different types of cultures that consist of people with dark skin but people do not see them as nigerian, ethiopian, or south african rather just “black”. Humans have a strong tendency to look at someone only by their skin color and I think this video shows that.

      • You say that “humans have tendency” to look at people by their skin color: (1) What evidence do we have for that; (2) is it just classification or is there a value judgment? (3) How does racialization operate in this context; also you seem to conflate race, ancestry, culture — why do we need to disentangle these concepts?

  17. Karlie Hall permalink

    After watching this video its sad to see how young girls feel a certain pressure to look and appear a certain way in order to feel pretty. I feel as though I never paid attention to how little our society plays in the role in not including and supporting different ethnicities, in terms of dolls for young girls. “Barbie” is known as a white blonde doll in which every young girl no matter their ethnicity has played with and has obviously affected the way young girls are perceiving “beauty” as. Beauty comes in all shapes, and colors and in the society we live in is making it appear as though there is one type of beauty. Same goes for being seen as overweight, in that our society being skinny is seen as being beautiful, and this however should not be the case. This video is a good representation of how messed up our society is about imagery, and shows the effects its having on many young girls today.

  18. DeShaun Mizner permalink

    I found this video not only shocking but also somewhat true. Growing up as a kid, i attended schools that had less than ten percent black students and out of that ten percent most kids were light skinned and favored among the other students. The dark students were considered to be the “trouble makers” of the school.
    The study where the girl asked the little students to pick the dolls was absolutely sad. Seeing that kids, even at the age where they shouldn’t understand the concept of race yet, are proving that these issues do exist. The test was a reality check to me.
    But what dumbfounded me the most was hearing that dark skinned people were actually trying to change their skin color by bleaching themselves. Trying to change yourself as a person is more destructive than being a “dark skinned” person. If you live near people who judge you or criticize you on the pigment of your skin, then you really need to relocate you AND your children.

  19. Julia Balaban permalink

    I believe that based on this video, certain African-Americans have tended to make themselves accustomed to white customs. It seems as though some African-Americans have been trying disguise who they truly are because society today has tended to made white more socially acceptable. The experiment from the movie with the black and white dolls proves that even children today do believe that the “good” doll is white and the “bad” doll is black. Why is that? I was asking myself this question throughout this short segment and it made me so sad. Further on in the video clip it stated that in Honduras that she started to bleach her skin when she was 25 and started to bleach her other two children’s skin as young as six years old. Someone should not go to these extremes because certain people do not think its acceptable to be different than what they, themselves are.

    • Is it really about disguising or white customs, but an ideology of white supremacy? What are the consequences of this ideology on society at larger, its institutions, beyond the question of beauty

  20. beth buechner permalink

    This video made me very upset when watching it because the women in this video are so young. These women are mostly still in high school and have already dealt with identity issues. Some feel they do not know their culture or where they come from, so they try to conform to what they think is “right” or “correct”. Many expressed how they saw themselves as ugly or less attractive because of their dark skin and curly hair. Many felt they needed to be light skinned with long blonde hair to be considered attractive. One woman told of a person buying bleach in order to make her skin, as well as her daughter’s skin lighter in color. Another told of when she got her hair done and relaxed so it would go straight. All of the women expressed how they feel not as pretty as their white counterparts because they have dark or “bad” features. A few make the connection of dolls, especially Barbie Dolls, and how they influence what our society sees as beautiful. These women grew up thinking they were not as beautiful because they did not look like the dolls they played with growing up. Even today when walking down the doll isle the number of white dolls is overwhelming in comparison to the number of black, hispanic, etc. dolls.

  21. Reed Clarridge permalink

    Ah, the doll test. Separate is never equal, because in defining two things as separate, the culture is acknowledging that they are not the same. The attitudes expressed by the individuals in the piece reveal the legacy of three hundred years of racism, slavery, and segregation by showcasing the perceived inferiority of those who identify with the group exploited. The experiment is powerful because it demonstrates the effects of systemic and institutional racism within the culture, even though there is not truly tangible and pinpointable source of this attitude.

  22. Victoria Kolytiris permalink

    This video honestly made me so sad. As a woman growing up it is already hard enough to deal with society judging you but hearing these girls talk about how they feel about the color of their skin honestly bothers me. One of the girls describes how being light skin is considered to be more beautiful, attractive and smarter. Many of the girls relax or perm their hair in order to not have nappy or kinky hair. Some of the darker skinned girls as well thought that being dark meant that they were ugly and they have had to learn to accept that. One of the girls describes how her aunt had bleached her and her daughters in order to become more light skinned. The doll test was also disturbing because from such a young age children are taught to think that white is good and black is bad. 15 out of the 20 children that were asked which doll they prefer they chose the white one even though they thought the darker one looked more like them. It is sad to think that these girls feel like they don’t have any culture to bring to society because they are black and do not understand where they have come from.

  23. Megan Grichel permalink

    To me the most shocking part of the video is the study using dolls. One of the little girls refers to the darker skin doll as the “bad” one and then says that same doll looks like her. Even at such a young age she believes that being white is ” good” in comparison to being black. This belief is why 6 year olds are having their skin bleached and putting all these chemicals into their hair and body just because they think being white is better. It is sad to see that people are ashamed of how they look just becase it doesn’t fit the white stereotype. The idea of white supremacy is damaging to other races.

  24. Amanda Fu permalink

    After watching this video and reading the other comments, it seems to me that the parts that impacted me the most is pretty parallel to of my classmates. The doll test was the part i found to be the most sad, choosing between whether white or black was good or bad? It really makes you think when 75% of those little kids, who haven’t even experienced enough in the world to understand racism and segregation, choose white as good and black as bad. Kids learn by the things around them and what they are exposed to. So I think that this is a clear example of how, even though people instated “separate but equal”, that it is never actually equal and that kids pick up on it, even now, that this culture still has a bit of bias towards whites, a lasting effect of segregation..

  25. Briana Nelson permalink

    This almost brought me to tears. As dark skinned African American female, I can totally relate to these ideas. Although I do believe that black is beautiful, it becomes frustrating when those of other races and of the same race disagree. It is ridiculous as to how brainwashed our society has become when it comes to beauty. A huge part of this comes from the media. In popular movies, magazines and advertisement, the same types of images are repeatedly shown (light skinned, long hair), which portrays the message that this is the only BEAUTIFUL look out there. This hurts my heart, and after watching this, it has made me realize that as a black female, I should be encouraging others African American females that black is beautiful.
    It is completely unacceptable to allow this notion that the darker your skin is the uglier and less smart you are.

  26. Todd Mehrkens permalink

    I think it is sad that kids even at young ages in elementary school are taught by society about race and how people are treated and viewed differently in society. In the video the study opened my eyes wider that these so called racial views are still being taught in today’s time. The study showed a lot about white supremacy, especially when the kids were saying that the white dolls were good, while black dolls were bad, just based of the dolls skin color. Then when you compare those beliefs that are being learned by society at a young age to those of high school and college students, then it becomes visible why those black women that were being interviewed believed that having a lighter skin was more beautiful.

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