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Their First Doll

February

What happens if the month of February never ends? 

Their First Doll

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doll-01.png

Their First Doll

from 300.00

Their First Doll

In the 1940s, psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark designed and conducted a series of experiments known colloquially as “the doll tests” to study the psychological effects of segregation on African-American children.

 Drs. Clark used four dolls, identical except for color, to test children’s racial perceptions. Their subjects, children between the ages of three to seven, were asked to identify both the race of the dolls and which color doll they prefer. A majority of the children preferred the white doll and assigned positive characteristics to it. The Clarks concluded that “prejudice, discrimination, and segregation” created a feeling of inferiority among African-American children and damaged their self-esteem. 

The doll test was only one part of Dr. Clark’s testimony in Brown – it did not constitute the largest portion of his analysis and expert report. His conclusions during his testimony were based on a comprehensive analysis of the most cutting-edge psychology scholarship of the period.

 The Supreme Court cited Clark’s 1950 paper in its Brown decision and acknowledged it implicitly in the following passage: “To separate [African-American children] from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.” Dr. Kenneth Clark was dismayed that the court failed to cite two other conclusions he had reached: that racism was an inherently American institution, and that school segregation inhibited the development of white children, too.

 

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