There is something particularly disturbing about racism in children. A recent video of two little White girls receiving Black baby dolls for Christmas shows how disturbing it can be to watch in action.
The viral video shows an older White girl named Rainey (sp?) and her sister Reagan opening a package from “Uncle Seth” and “Aunt Cynthia.” They seem excited at first. But, once Rainey sees that there are two Black dolls inside, her demeanor changes. When asked if she likes her’s by the camera person (who seems to be the mother of both girls), she nods but is clearly uneasy about the gift. In contrast, Reagan, becomes visibly upset and then starts crying loudly. The camera person and others in the room then burst into laughter.
Salon has noted that the video hearkens back to a 1940s experiment by Kenneth and Mamie Clark. In the experiment, the researchers asked Black children to pick which dolls they would like to play with. Sixty-three percent of children chose the White one. Most of the children thought the White doll was prettier. And, forty-four percent said the White doll looked most like them. But, that project tested Black children. The racial hatred from White children is rarely seen this vividly.
As a mother of Black children, I have experienced White children patting my son’s hair and describing the texture as “like a sheep.” I have also had to contend with kids telling my children they were “dirty” because they were “brown.” Even with those experiences, seeing the disgust on these little girls’ faces left me speechless. But, the reaction from the video’s camera person is probably the worst part of this clip.
After a few watches, I realized that this cruel escapade wasn’t a gift giving exercise. Rather, it was a trick to capture the racial hatred that the onlookers behind the camera knew already existed. It’s kind of like when a parent tries to capture their kid’s first steps but they inevitably get the second ones. This was a reenactment. Or, it was at least videotaped because the adults involved knew these little girls weren’t particularly keen on blackness. For this experiment to even work, they had to know that the reaction would be obnoxious or at least surprising.
Anyone who sees the footage and thinks it is as straight-forward as the girls having preferences for different color dolls is missing a larger issue here. These young girls have been conditioned to see blackness as foreign or even upsetting. The fact that these dolls were props in this experiment is evidence that these little girls probably don’t own any dolls who don’t look like them. Rather than champion diversity of beauty, the adults in these young children’s lives have made their racial hatred a source of fodder. For them, it isn’t something to be corrected. It’s something to be laughed at.
I’m not sure who Uncle Seth and Aunt Cynthia are but this video is cruel. Seeing one child cry because she was gifted with a toy my child would gush over wasn’t entertaining to me at all. I guess it’s hard to get the joke when it relies on your oppression.
Photo credit: HDPixa.com