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Artistic Inspiration

By: April Lacey

Clark Doll Experiment

As a senior in high school, I took an AP psychology class and I believe I learned about this experiment once before. I feel like the audience for such an epic experiment should be those who believe that racism doesn’t exist. This experiment proves that even as young children, we are taught by those who have oppressed us throughout history, to hate ourselves. Regardless of what people say, whites and blacks are not treated equally. We’re barely treated as human beings and if we’re lucky enough to even be treated as that, we’re treated as the “number two” - of course while white people are number one. I have a younger sister and my mother and I have made it our duty to make sure that she knows brown skin is beautiful. She’s only two years old now but even as an infant, we’d put on the Princess and the Frog as we’d put her to sleep and it is now one of her favorite movies. Now that she’s older, another one of her favorite Disney movies is Moana, which is another movie we introduced her to because she’s a POC (princess of color). Along with Doc McStuffins. Although we’ve introduced her to movies with black main characters, we do not limit her to only watching things with black main characters. Another thing we did as a way to show her that black skin is beautiful is, all of her dolls are black/brown with all different kinds of hair textures - so that she knows none of them are better than the next. We make sure we always tell her that she’s pretty, her hair is pretty and that she is smart. We do this so that as she grows up, no one can take her confidence away from her.

Lesson from HelLa Cells

There is a movie based on Henrietta Lacks that I’d often watch as a child even though I didn’t fully understand it. The movie is called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and it starred Oprah Winfrey as Henrietta. Most times when it’d come on, on cable, it would play on lifetime or HBO. As I’d gotten older, her movie began to be shown in my science classes and that’s when I started to truly understand what was actually being shown to me. Another movie based on a true story, unfortunately similar to the movie on Henrietta Lacks is Miss Evers’ Boys which stars Alfre Woodard, a famous actress in the black community. Miss Evers’ Boys is a movie based on the Tuskegee Trials, which was a study conducted on African American men to observe syphilis, but while conducting this experiment, the African American men were left untreated while the white men with syphilis were not. I hadn’t become aware of the movie or this event in history until I was in my junior year of college and I went to Tuskegee, Alabama for a college visit and it was mentioned during the tour. Both historical events, I feel like I had to learn about on my own or either they weren’t taught to me by the school system and I found that very ironic because America loves sharing their history but not the history that involves their cruelty towards black people.

Stereotypes about Science & Scientists

I definitely agreed with a lot of the things that were said in this article. I feel like what makes it crazier is because most of the stereotypes that were pointed out within this article, I was already aware of, I just didn’t view them as stereotypes. I think that just goes to show how it’s been a thing installed into society for so long where you think a certain stereotype is normal. For instance, the “mad scientist” idea. Although it’s something that I grew up associating with all scientists, I never really sat and thought back like “hey, this is a stereotype” and now that I’m actually acknowledging that it is a stereotype it makes me think about how scientists feel about such stereotypes. I feel like there’s a receiving end to each stereotype as well as a group of people who impose or created these stereotypes. And it’s just crazy because it’s not something that was born last night, stereotypes are things that have formed over many generations and they’re just passed on because in a sense, they’re so easy to “accept” and conform to.

While reading each article I experienced a lot of different emotions. The article about the Clark Doll Experiment mostly made me feel waves of anger and disappointment because it’s sad that little black girls subconsciously see themselves as mean or less appreciated. Although the study was demonstrated on dolls, I think at such a young age, the children didn’t realize how much those dolls are a reflection of them. So, hearing that the lighter skinned dolls we seen as “prettier” or nicer, it breaks my heart because as young black girls, we’re exposed to racism, prejudice, colorism, and self hate at such a young age. Moving on to the article about the HeLa cells, I experienced a little bit less anger when reading about it because I already knew a decent amount of the information that was given in the article. Maybe less angered isn’t the right term? I’ll say I was more familiar with the information so it didn’t trigger me as quickly as it could’ve. I feel like throughout history, black people have always been seen as the “underdog” but we’re the ones who have made the major breakthroughs and not even just limited to the medical field. I feel like this applies in art such as theatre, music, the industrial world, food, the technical world.. There are a lot of things that black people as a whole have contributed to but we don’t receive the credit for it. Not to get off track from the article, but another example is the culture. Long nails, hoop earrings, head wraps, dashikis, long lashes, big hair styles etc, all of these things are apart of black culture and commonly, these are the things that are seen as “ugly” or “unprofessional” when it is seen on a black woman - but then mainstream America, turns around and gentrifies our culture, wraps it up to make it look pretty and they resell the same thing that they once and still do consider to be unprofessional and ugly or “ghetto”. We, black people, have been the start of a lot of things, we have broken through barriers for a lot of things and unfortunately some of those barriers were not broken through in a humane way. Lastly, while reading the article about common stereotypes applied to science and scientists it made me think about a lot. First, I’d like to point out the “mad scientist” idea which really stood out to me because as a child, my future career was to be a pediatric surgeon but, before I came to that conclusion, I just knew that I wanted to be in the field of science. Often when I was younger you’d see the typical “mad scientists” and up until I read this article, I didn’t even realize how big of a stereotype it was. I didn’t realize that I barely saw black doctors being presented to me in the media or even black female doctors. Luckily though, I had the same pediatrician for 18 years and she is an amazing black woman. The article also led me to reflect on two shows that I watch that are called Rick and Morty and Sweet tooth, which I wish to further elaborate on in our group meeting.

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