Jan 3 2012

Mexicans Recreate ‘Black Doll-White Doll’ Experiment to Measure Skin Color Preference South of the Border

In an attempt to measure the degree to which Mexican children are affected by the legacy of European colonialism and the present day images they are bombarded with via the media, researchers in Mexico conducted an experiment modeled after the famous 1940’s Clark study that was designed to measure skin color preference in black American children.

Mexico’s National Council to Prevent Discrimination, or CONAPRED, are circulating a video in which children who are mestizos, or half-Spanish, half-Indian, are asked to pick  the “good doll,” and the doll that most resembles them. The children, mostly brown-skinned, almost uniformly say the white doll was “better” or was most like them.

“Which doll is the good doll?” a woman’s voice asks one child.

“I am not afraid of whites,” he responds, pointing to the white doll. “I have more trust.”

Mexicans who viewed the video online said that they were disturbed but not surprised by the results.

Some comments on the video have noted that the options were “very limiting” in that the children were offered only black and white, or good and bad as choices.

“It is a poorly formulated question, it is pretentious,” one viewer said on the website VivirMexico.

Others say the study reveals a deep-seated prejudice that is taught to Mexican children from an early age.

Wilner Metelus, a sociology professor and leader of a committee advocating for Afro-Mexicans and black immigrants, said the doll video shows the prevalence of racism and the need to educate young people.

“The Mexican state still does not officially recognize Afro-Mexicans. There are few texts that talk about the presence of Africans in Mexico,” Metelus said. “We need a project in the schools to show that the dark children are just the same as them, as the lighter children. And not only in schools; it is also necessary in Mexican families.”

Luz Maria Martinez, a leading anthropologist on Afro-Mexican culture, said, “We do not know how to value the indigenous culture, which is very rich, or the African culture, which is as great as any in the world.”

by Kathleen Cross for rollingout.com


Nov 2 2011

Desperate Ex-Skinhead Turns to Former Black Enemy to Escape Life of Hate

“I wasn’t on any great mission for the white race. I was just a thug.” -Bryon Widner

Bryon Widner gets frequent migraines and has to stay out of the sun. He calls it “a small price to pay for being human again.”

Before he fell in love and married his wife, Julie, Bryon Widner had once devoted his life, his heart and his body to the cause of white supremacy. A pillar in the neo-Nazi movement, Widner was one of the most violent and well-known skinheads in the nation, and he had the tattoos to prove it. A blood-soaked razor, swastikas, and the letters “HATE” stamped across his knuckles, were but a few of the outrageous messages his body was broadcasting to the world.

After marrying in 2006, Widner and his wife (who had also been an active white supremacist) changed their minds about the movement and began trying to build a life free of hatred. Widner left behind his old ties, and looked forward to a future in which his children could look at him and be proud.

Unfortunately, and, understandably, Widner could find few people willing to look past his hate-filled tattoos to determine if the man behind them really did want to change his life.

Unable to afford the expensive removal procedure, Bryon began experimenting with homemade concoctions to try to burn the tattoos from his face and body.

He reached the point, he said, where “I was totally prepared to douse my face in acid.”

In desperation, Julie reached out to a black man whom white supremacists consider their sworn enemy.

Daryle Lamont Jenkins runs an anti-hate group called One People’s Project based in Philadelphia. The 43-year-old activist posts the names and addresses of white supremacists on his website, and alerts people to their activities. Jenkins has been the target of death threats and vicious hate speech from various white hate organizations around the country.

The Widners had sought advice from the right man. Jenkins’ introduced them to T.J. Leyden, a former neo-Nazi who is now an activist for tolerance.

Leyden knows better than most the barriers faced by those seeking to turn their backs on their neo-Nazi roots to begin anew.

Leyden ultimately led the Widners to the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala.  Through the help of the SPLC an anonymous donor paid the estimated $35,000 it cost to free Bryon from his prison of ink. The donor’s conditions were that Widner get his GED, get counseling and pursue either a college education or a trade — he was happy to comply.

Read the entire AP article at the Salt Lake Tribune.


Oct 31 2011

We’re a Culture Not a Costume (REPOST)

Fed up with the annual parade of white folks in blackface, “Indian squaws,” and other culturally insensitive Halloween costumes on their campus, a group of students at Ohio University decided to do something about it.

Members of the campus club STARS (Students Teaching Against Racism) created a poster series with the theme “We’re A Culture, Not A Costume,” featuring Halloween revelers dressed in costumes STARS members consider sterotypical and offensive.

The group says the intention of the posters is to:

“Educate and facilitate discussion about racism and to promote racial harmony and to create a safe, non-threatening environment to allow participants to feel comfortable to express their feelings.”

The campaign has definitely incited dialogue, though some of what is being posted on the Internet is not fit to be printed here. Melissa, who blogged about the poster campaign at her website Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, had to disable her comments due to the volume of racist  remarks she received.

Arizona University student, Kristine Bui, wrote this about the posters in her school’s paper:

“It’s hard to explain exactly what is so wrong about being a geisha or a sheik for Halloween. It’s unsettling. It’s a feeling I’ve always struggled to articulate — a discomfort that sort of just sits in the place between your heart and your stomach, quietly nagging. It’s a sense of being wronged without knowing exactly what was done to you.

“People who think racism is dead think so because they don’t see active discrimination. They think, ‘But minorities are allowed to do everything I’m allowed to do, so where’s the harm?’ STARS’ poster campaign calls attention to another problem: Minorities are often made into caricatures … As a minority, you’re a character, not a person. People dress up as you on Halloween. On TV, you’re the token black guy, easily replaced by some other black guy after one season.

“Racism is so much stealthier now. It doesn’t announce itself, and it’s complicated.”

 

STARS President ‘Sarah’ recently posted this update on her Tumbler page:

POSTER CAMPAIGN UPDATE:
Any questions about the posters can be sent to OHIOUSTARS@GMAIL.COM. We are so proud of all the support but it’s overwhelming; We have less than 10 members in our group. lol We ask that you do not personally email any of the exec’s or message their personal tumblrs. Thank you guys so much for the love! The purpose was to educate and create dialogue and it did :) We have a meeting with a lawyer on Monday so we can protect our posters and the posters will be all over Ohio University’s campus this week! Again, thanks for the support and have a happy Halloween!
Best, Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS) at Ohio University Executive board

 

Although I’ve never been one to wear ethnically stereotypical or disrespectful costumes, I am definitely thinking more deeply about this issue. These posters have inspired me  to take a mental inventory of my own Halloween costume choices over the years, and I don’t think a casual walk through the costume store will ever be the same.

Congratulations on all your hard work STARS. You’ve got people thinking, talking, and costume changing.