Legacy of slavery or just a poor self image?

Posted: April 22, 2008 in Commentary, Our children

Recently, I came across the following video (I believe this is the program my wife was telling me about last week–just thinking out loud) that caused me to take some pause. Check it out.

Not too long ago I took my kids (and the neighbor’s kids) to the local toy store. My daughter was the only girl in the group, so I stuck with her as she browsed the “girl section” (as she calls it). For whatever reason, I decided to do an impromptu doll test on her. I took two of the same Barbie dolls (one was White and the other was Black) and sat them on the shelf next to each other. I asked her some of the same questions the brutha on the video asked those children. Each time, without hesitation, my daughter chose the Black doll.

Now I do remember not too long ago talking about on this site how for a short time my daughter used to tell us that she wanted hair like her White classmates. My wife and I (mostly my wife) spent some quality time with her reinforcing the uniqueness of her hair. No we didn’t strap her down to a chair in a dark room while repeatedly showing her the first 15-20 minutes of the movie Coming to America. Instead, my wife would invite her to look through some of her Black hair magazines, Essence and Ebony to show her images of other beautiful Black women and their **cough** weaves **cough** (I mean) hair 🙂 . Today, she is a very confident girl who loves her hair.

While the portrayal of Blacks in the media is something that should never be taken lightly, as a parent I do not rely on the media to help formulate self esteem for my kids. Getting a Black face in front of Vogue magazine is not nearly important to me as a child that does not have a support system who can help formulate a sense of worth. And Lord knows, we have MANY children who do not have such a support system.

The other day I ran into a gentleman (Black, probably in his mid-50’s or so) who began to tell me and my friend who was with me at the time about how just when he was about to enjoy his golden years with his wife, his son fathers a child that he simply is not in the frame of mind to care for. Long story short, this gentleman had to intervene and get custody of the baby because A. the mother was not caring for the child at all (feeding the child spoiled milk, feces around the apartment, etc.), B. The son did not want to work–leaving the child in a total state of uncertainty. So this gentleman did what any caring parent would probably do in the same situation–he fought to get custody of his grandchild. My heart really went out for this brutha because grandparents are not supposed to be raising kids. As a parent of two young kids myself, I know how much time they can take away from mommy and daddy’s time. Since he lives in my community, I offered to help watch this child from time to time (with my wife of course) so that they can have at least a few hours or so to steal away with each other. While I cannot be a father to this child, I can certainly do something to help this child feel some sense of worth. It may not be much, but it is better than nothing.

The doll test will always be something that will cause our blood to boil. But unless we are willing to hold each other accountable to the plight of these kids and not mainstream media, the issue of poor self image will always haunt our offspring.

  1. Black Girl says:

    I know I’m late but I love the fact you posted this. I’m a mom of two little black girls and I made both of them watch this study. Very powerful!

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