High School Student Re-creates Kenneth Clark’s 1940 Doll Experiment: Results Mirror Clark’s Finding That Black Girls Prefer White Dolls

In the 1940s black psychologist Kenneth Clark conducted an experiment using black and white dolls. Clark found that when given a choice, young black girls preferred white dolls over black dolls. The results of the Clark experiment were presented as evidence in the Brown v. Board of Education case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court referred to the experiment in its decision, stating that young blacks were growing up with an inherent sense of inferiority.

Now 60 years later, little has changed. Kiri Davis, a high school senior in New York City, re-created the Clark experiment with 21 black preschool girls. She gave the black girls two dolls, one white and one black. She then asked the girls to show her the doll that “looks bad.” Fifteen of the 21 black girls in the David experiment preferred the white doll over the black doll.

Davis made a short documentary film on the experiment entitled A Girl Like Me. The film has been shown at film festivals across the country and has won nine awards.

The film can also be viewed online by clicking here.