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Where is Humanity for A Girl Like Me? 27 January, 2007

Posted by paralleldivergence in children, education, Life, My Thoughts, Politics, racism.

When people run a project, an essential part of the success of that project is ongoing review. What did we do right? What did we do wrong? What could we have done better? Those evaluations and recommendations then must be applied to future projects to ensure progress. Why as a society would we not apply that same concept to our children? While it is our job to teach children, we must also listen to them and learn from them.


The old principle, “Children should be seen and not heard” is akin to placing blinkers on a society’s future. Certainly, our children are precious and need nurturing, but their thoughts and perceptions are also direct evidence of what they have learned from us and should never be ignored.

One of these children, 17 year-old Kiri Davis, a high school student from New York, decided to make a short documentary in 2006 to capture the thoughts and perceptions of her peers and even from infants in her neighborhood. In the 1940s an experiment was conducted where black children were offered a black doll and a white doll, and then were asked which one they thought was better. Back then, they overwhelmingly chose the white doll.  In her film, “A Girl Like Me“, Davis recreated that experiment and asked four and five year-old children at a Harlem school the same question.

She found that the children’s answers were not that different. In Davis’ test, 15 of the 21 children said that the white doll was good and pretty, and that the black doll was bad. It seems little has changed in 60 years when you refer to the grass roots of racism. What hope have we got when black children as young as four and five already have it burned into their minds that white children are better than them?

Please take some time to watch and think about Kiri Davis’ provocative seven-minute documentary, “A Girl Like Me“. Then if you have a comment, tell us – Where do we go from here?



1. timethief - 28 January, 2007

This was so very sad to watch. Beautiful young black children and women suffering from the legacy of slavery and loss of cultural pride. Where do we go from here, indeed. I’m stymied.

2. missprofe - 29 January, 2007

If we, as Black women, are STILL having THIS conversation in 2007 – well…we(the Black women – young and old, of all shades and hair textures) need to go to a room and hash it out until there is nothing left to say.

Man, old ways of thinking truly die hard.

3. paralleldivergence - 29 January, 2007

Hi misprofe. I think you’ve got the solution. If this misconception still exists then it’s got to be solved from within. But will it happen?

It’s a bit like Muslims who say Islamic extremists and terrorists are not really Muslim at all, so it’s not their problem. But it is their problem to defend their religion from within – from those who speak against Islam “in the name of Islam”. Instead, they feel persecuted because they perceive that the West sees all Muslims as extreme.

Similarly, there are very successful black people that have to struggle against forces within their own community that perpetuate these old ways of thinking and negative attitudes. Could it be called an “unjustified inferiority complex” or are there still major discrimination issues perpetuated by the white community that need to be addressed?

Thanks for your feedback misprofe and timethief.

4. Arunabh Singh - 29 January, 2007

Once you give the children an understanding of how skin color changes in time and that all humans today are all from a few thousand Africans who were black [around 65,000 years back] ….things should change….

5. Neal Watzman - 29 January, 2007

Eye-opening and sad. What a price paid because of the stereotype of what is supposed to be beautiful in this “culture” (or lack thereof) of ours.

What is really beautiful in that film in the work put into it and the radiance of the children participating.

6. tobeme - 30 January, 2007

I am amazed at the results. I thought they would be differnt in today’s America. This is very sad. I agree the change must come from within.

Arunabh Singh,
I understand what you are saying, however this could backfire. If all humans today are all from a few thousand Africans then it could be perceived that getting lighter skin is an evolutionary process. I think this approach would be a slippery slope to try to help children understand why they should be proud to be black.

7. Jannette - 6 February, 2007

I knew there was some level of racism left, but never to such a degree as portrayed in the documentary. It almost seems like we are stepping backwards, as opposed to marching forward.

ParallelDivergence:: I hope you don’t mind me linking back to your site.

8. paralleldivergence - 6 February, 2007

Thanks Jannette, consider that reciprocated!

9. A Girl Like Me « Janland! - 6 February, 2007

[…] Monday, February 5th, 2007 Please take a moment to view an eye opening, seven-minute documantary on racism by 17 year old, Kiri Davis intitled “A Girl Like Me“ […]

10. Jannette - 6 February, 2007


I love your site by the way.

11. BronzeTrinity - 9 April, 2007

If you liked the YouTube video called ‘A Girl Like Me’ by Kiri Davis then here is a way that you can help this shining star win a $10,000 scholarship! PLEASE vote for Kiri in the Cosmo Girl Website at http://www.cosmogirl.com/entertainment/film-contest-vote Her film has really inspired me and I think this young lady has a great future ahead of her.
You can view ‘A Girl Like Me’ on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17fEy0q6yqc
And please Spread the Word!

12. futurebird - 21 June, 2007

They have suspended the voting for the cosmo contest. Judges will pick the final winner. A lot of people were upset by this change. When they announce the winner in August I hope the recognize this film.

13. CAKETOWN - 4 February, 2008

This is SOOO sad… but doing a paper on it right now while your drunk is …..difficult :/

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