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While doing research for my novel, I came across this passage about race from a brief for Brown v. Board of Education (the case that struck down “separate but equal” and eventually led to desegregation of schools, for all you non-legal folks). I’m going to just quote it in full, because it’s so powerful:

“Included in the brief was the following report by Dr. Kenneth Clark, a psychologist. Clark went to South Carolina and tested sixteen black children, who were shown a white doll and a black doll and were given these instructions:

  1. ‘Give me the doll you like best.’
  2. ‘Give me the doll that is the nice doll.’
  3. ‘Give me the doll that looks bad.’
  4. ‘Give me the doll that is a nice color.’
  5. ‘Give me the doll that is most like you.’

According to Dr. Clark, ‘some of the children reacted with such intense emotion to the dolls test that they were unable to continue. One little girl who had shown a clear preference for the white doll and who described the brown doll as “ugly” and “dirty” broke into a torrent of tears when she was asked to identify herself with one of the dolls.’ Clark added, ‘These children saw themselves as inferior, and they accepted the inferiority as part of reality. . . . It really is internalized in children. . . . It influences the child’s view of himself.'”

Heartbreaking, right? That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about when I say it’s not healthy for little girls to always hear stories about boy characters, and for all the cool heroes, toys, etc to be boys. If girls don’t see our culture embracing females, they will internalize the message that girls are inferior. And that will lead to a whole slew of other problems, which I don’t have time to get into right now.

Back to my research. And tomorrow, to Mississippi!!