Photograph by Gordon Parks. Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation.

A set of famous experiments from the 1940’s demonstrates how children reflect the information they collect about race. Psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark conducted these studies, often called the “doll test.” The Clarks used Black and White toy dolls to talk to young kids about race. Their experiment showed that children understand some aspects of racial inequality. And this influences how they feel about themselves and others. The doll experiments have been repeated a number of times by many researchers. Even in our current ‘post-racial’ era, researchers find similar results. On the next page, you’ll watch a short clip of a version of the Clarks’ Doll Study made just a few years ago. As you will see from the video, children are very aware of society’s beliefs about race. In fact, the Clarks’ Doll Studies were used as evidence of the harmful effects of segregation in the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. The case ultimately found that “separate, but equal” schooling was in fact unequal and hurtful.