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FMA Talks About Race

FMA Talks About Race
Posted on 03/05/2015

In the 1940s pioneering psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark used dolls to study children’s attitudes and self-perceptions about race. While looking at two identical dolls (except for skin, eye, and hair color) the study asked children nine questions including:

  • Which is the smart doll?
  • Which is the dumb doll?
  • Which is the pretty doll?
  • Which is the ugly doll?
  • Which doll is nice?
  • Which doll is bad?
  • Which doll would you play with?
  • And Which doll looks most like you?

The results of this study were shocking. Most children identified the black doll as being the ugly, dumb, and bad doll. Over the decades similar studies have been done asking all races of children the same questions. Overall, study results have improved over the years, but not by much.

During the last couple of months the FMA leadership team has been brave enough to talk about race and class, 2015, in the era of Ferguson, Trayvon Martin, and Black Lives Matter. We wondered if race really mattered to the children at Fletcher Maynard Academy. We didn’t want to make assumptions, we wanted data directly related to us. We decided to replicate the Clark Study, so during the last month we asked all of our students PK-Grade 5, the same questions the Clark psychologists asked over sixty years ago. We are currently looking at the responses given, specifically focusing on two questions: Which doll is the smart doll and which doll is the dumb doll.

This spring, with the support of the Fletcher Maynard Academy PTO, we will have a parent evening to review the study results and talk about the implications for future work with the students. The information will also be shared with the FMA faculty and discussions held to see how we can ultimately help all children realize that, “Race Doesn’t Matter” and that anyone and everyone can be smart . . . as long as they work hard. If you would like more information about the study or our future work, please see Ms. Harris or other members of the FMA Leadership Team.

--Principal Harris