Meet Marissa Brown, one of our 5th year students. We invited her to tell us about Black historical figures that made an impact on her life. Here’s what she shared:
Which black historical figure(s) have particular meaning to you?
Kenneth and Mamie Clark
How have they inspired/impacted you?
Through their groundbreaking work in psychology, they identified colourism, an issue that has been around for centuries.
Their work, known as “The Doll Test,” takes children of various colours and ages and places dolls of different complexion in front of them. Asking them to point to the good/beautiful doll or the bad/ugly doll, a majority of children pointed to lighter-skinned dolls for beauty and the dark-skinned dolls for unattractiveness.
They taught the world that we are impacted from a young age as to what we see as good and beautiful.
I think people need to remember that black people meeting and excelling in education is such an amazing accomplishment, one of endurance and strength. When slaves were set free, it wasn’t a simple transition into society. They were poor, uneducated, homeless, hated and viewed as inferior. To see a black man and woman in the 1940’s work against the inherited effects of systemic racism and do it to better their people is Black Excellence.
What have the Clarks taught you about the heart of God?
They taught the world that we are impacted from a young age as to what we see as good and beautiful. In their work, we can reflect on the idea that God defines what is good and beautiful. He does so just three sentences into the Bible! that being all of his creation, made in His image.
How can we honour the Clark legacy?
To honour the Clark legacy, I would recommend watching any of the following videos on Youtube:
- Brown v Board of Education (Doll Test)
- Doll Test
- Parents Reaction to Child Doll Test
- A Look at Race Relations Through a Child’s Eyes
Looking at life through an investigating eye would be beneficial. Look at your current environment and the media you consume. Are there people of colour? And if so, what stereotypes or underlying colourism is present? (i.e. Lighter skinned persons of colour being main characters, darker-skinned characters being villains, viewed as ugly, or feeding into stereotypes for comedic relief.)
We want to say a huge thank you to Marissa Brown for teaching us about the Clarks, colourism, and the small steps we can take to honour all people as those who are truly made in God’s image.