The other day I came across the show “What Would You Do?”. The idea of the show is to create all types of different situations by using actors to play roles, to see what people would do when placed into certain situations. One of the episodes involved two sets of actors to play a mother and a daughter shopping in a toy store, the first set was played by a White mother and daughter, and the second set was played by a Black mother and daughter. The White mother and daughter were looking around the toy store when the daughter picked up a doll and asked her mother to buy it for her.  The mother instantly rejected her daughters request, not because the doll was too expensive, not because she felt that her daughter had enough dolls, NO, she refused to buy her White daughter the doll she picked out because the doll happened to be Black. The question is, what would you do if you were shopping in that store and saw this interaction taking place?

The mother then went onto say things like “why would you want THIS doll, it doesn’t look like you?” Let’s just say that there were a handful of people that took it into their own hands and approached the mother, and tried to lecture her, asking her how she can push her negative way of thinking onto her little girl. They urged the mother to see that both the White and Black dolls were equally as beautiful. The show also reenacted the same scene with a Black mother and daughter, this time the Black daughter asked for the White doll. People reacted the same way towards both mothers. One young man even took his time to stop and speak with the little girl reassuring her that any doll she wants to have is beautiful regardless of her color. He continued to explain to her that people shouldn’t be judged on how they look and especially on the color of their skin. When the host of the show came out and told the young man that this was all scripted, the young man broke into tears and expressed his deep heartache regarding this situation. Showing that some people really do stand up for what is right and believe in a color-blind society.

Even though this situation was part of a show and scripted, it is terrifying to admit that situations like this must really happen in real life, even in a time when we claim that we treat everyone equally. Even when looking to the media, I think that it is safe to say that most commercials advertising dolls, advertise White dolls. A study in the 1940s resulted in more than 60%  of children favoring White dolls over Black dolls. Even though we hope that this has changed, many little girls watch t.v and may believe that these dolls are better or somehow more beautiful because they are displayed in the media more often. If people can possibly discriminate a doll for being a certain color, what would make us believe that these people would treat a human being any better? So how far have we really come when it comes down to racism and discrimination?

This is a link to a clip that shows this scene-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI602LY7D20

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2 responses

  1. robin wallace says:

    This story reminded me about an experience I had a few months ago. I was visiting my close friend in California and picked up her three and a half year old daughter from ballet class. Her teacher seemed to be nice and kind with the class, at the end of the class she showed the girls a picture of the dress they would be wearing for the recital. When my friends daughter saw the picture she got a huge smile and said something along the lines of ” I’m gona look like that!” to which her teacher replied with a smirk “no you won’t”. I had the strongest wave of anger rush over me and knew exactly what she meant by it, through the tone and reaction in her voice. The girl in the picture was white, my friends daughter is black. I have thought in retrospect about what I feel would be the best reaction, if mine embodied the totality of my feelings or if an exchange like that ever has the possibility to address the depth of ones feelings. But nevertheless, if I could have done a better job or not, my reaction (after I probably rolled my eyes and glared at her)was just to say “Excuse me? She was referring to the dress. ” and looked at my friends daughter and said “of course you will look beautiful”. I was really upset, and while I have experienced many situations with friends and in observations in the world that reflect a similar attitude this stuck out because to me she is my baby, I want so much to not have her living in a world that has such a capacity to hurt her feelings, and that could even be the slightest possible to crush her self image.
    I think that show is a good idea, it gives us the opportunity to examine social interactions and our ability/inability to address the reality of any experience. And the truth is sometimes things don’t feel relatable until we have experiences, so this offers that experience.

  2. ataa17 says:

    I think it is quite sad that people judge right down to the toy one plays with. as a child my parents never cared to much about the toys i played with. i had both black and white dolls. But i do remember it being a big deal to some of my cousins that i had white dolls because all of their dolls were black. I personally don’t see why a child cant have a black doll even being white and a white doll even being black. It just goes back to this idea that race consciousness and discrimination is taught and taught at very ages even with the toys that children play with. I think if children were brought up more color blind we would have a better understanding on what equality really is and how as little as changing the way we think can help the problem.