The Power of Suggestion - Race in 2013

Recently, we were asked to allow our daughter to be a part of an experiment led by a high school student collecting data for her report.  The experiment involves 100 students (~age range 5-7) answering a series of questions as it relates to race, using a black doll and a white doll.  A few of the questions were: 1) Which doll is the bad doll?  2) Which doll is the prettiest doll?  3) Which doll looks like you?  My instincts told me that I’m not ok with letting my daughter participate. Sidebar: Didn’t we already figure this out in the first experiment back in the 1940s with the Clarks?!?!

As a doting Mom, there are a lot of things I say about my child that you’d hear many parents say about their children…only mine happens to be true-lol!  My daughter is thee desire of my heart! She is beautiful, a genius, kind, smart, articulate, funny, well behaved, and loving - to name a few.  After being in a local store looking for a specific hair care product, my daughter asked me why, out of all of the products she’d seen in the isle, were there only a few people on the boxes that looked like us.  So, on my list to describe my little one, I’m adding, ‘astute’.  Needless to say, I answered the question in terms of product ownership, which led into business building and entrepreneurship as inputs to being able to influence a shift in perception.  She walked away with asking me to invest in her company when she gets older, which was a proud moment – yes, but my underlying goal was to empower my little girl.

While we live to raise our children to function in this world, I happen to believe race has always been a part of it.  But aren’t there other measures in capturing the essence of what this high school student’s intention is in her data collection?  The idea of the experiment when it was done back in the 1940s was to study children’s attitude about race.  In my mind the experiment offers, I believe, what we already know to be true.  We know that that their parents, television, friends, family, magazines, music and social media (amongst other things) influence children.  This isn’t breaking news!!!  

One of the reasons I’m opposed to allowing my daughter to participate is because I think it has the potential to offer a suggestion in a young mind.  Maybe I wouldn’t be so opposed to this experiment if the questions were not surrounding the doll’s color…I’m not sure.  What I am sure of is that my instincts said, ‘don’t do it.’  And over the years, I’ve learned to rely on and trust that internal voice, and that was enough for me.    

What do you think?  Would you let your kid participate in this experiment?  Why or why not? 

Thanks for reading!
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  1. Wow! I've never really heard of an experiment of this type. It doesn't sound like one I would want my kids to participate in. Isn't the idea to look beyond skin color? This experiment sounds like it reinforces differences. I'm with you!

    1. As often as we try to look beyond race, things like this pulls us right back. It turns out that I was not the only parent that didn't allow their child to participate. It's the right thing to do.

      Thanks for your comment/feedback! I hope you visit again!



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