What a Doll Tells Us About Race
"GMA" examines race relations by revisiting a famous doll experiment.
It's a question "Good Morning America" posed in its three-part series "Black and White Now," which takes a look at the current state of race relations.
In Part 1, "GMA" recreated a famous doll experiment, which gave insight into race relations and the self-esteem of children.
In the 1940s, the nation was captivated by an electrifying experiment by legendary sociologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark. They asked black children about two dolls, one white and one black.
The majority -- 63 percent of them -- said they'd rather play with the white doll. Most said the white doll was nicer than the black doll and in the most poignant answer of all, 44 percent of the black children said the white doll looked most like them.
"[It was] groundbreaking in that it sort of changed the way we look at race relations," Harvard University professor William Julius Wilson said. "Here are kids who felt that [...] being white was more beautiful than black. And that's pretty devastating."
Sixty years and one biracial president later, "GMA" gathered 19 black children, ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old, in Norfolk, Va.
Some of our results differed vastly from those of the original experiment. For example, 88 percent of our children happily identified with the dark-skinned doll.
Forty-two percent of the children wanted to play with the black doll compared to 32 percent for the white doll.
"GMA" then moved on to that question about which doll is nice and which is not. Sixty years ago, 56 percent of the children chose the white doll. The majority of our kids chose black or both and 32 percent chose the white doll.
Sometimes the choice had nothing to do with race.
"The bad doll is on my right because that's just the way it looks at me. It kind of creeps me out with the beady eyes," said 9-year-old Chareese Hicks, a fourth-grade participant who picked the white doll as bad.