Archive for May, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Latest DUH Study: CNN experiment Shows Black and White Children have Bias Toward Light Skin. Duh.

cnn large The Latest DUH Study: CNN experiment Shows Black and White Children have Bias Toward Light Skin. Duh.

Nearly 60 years after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling segregated US schools and more than a year after the election of the country’s first black president, white children have an overwhelming white bias, and black children also have a bias toward white, according to a new study commissioned by CNN.  I’m shocked!  Next thing you know, someone will discover that fat meat is greasy.

First of all (black people love to say that), why is CNN commissioning this study?  Am I the only one that finds this odd?  I need answers Soledad.  But, I digress.

A white child looks at a picture of a black child and says she’s bad because she’s black. A black child says a white child is ugly because he’s white. A white child says a black child is dumb because she has dark skin. No shit, we needed a whole study to figure that out?

Renowned child psychologist and University of Chicago professor Margaret Beale Spencer, a leading researcher in the field of child development, led the study. She designed the pilot study and led a team of three psychologists: two testers to execute the study and a statistician to help analyze the results.

According to CNN, her team tested 133 children from schools that met very specific economic and demographic requirements. In total, eight schools participated: four in the greater New York City area and four in Georgia.

Spencer’s test aimed to re-create the landmark Doll Test from the 1940s. Those tests, conducted by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark, were designed to measure how segregation affected African-American children.

The Clarks asked black children to choose between a white doll and — because at the time, no brown dolls were available — a white doll painted brown. They asked black children a series of questions and found they overwhelmingly preferred white over brown. The study and its conclusions were used in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, which led to the desegregation of American schools—which btw, was fucking brilliant.

In the new study, which is friggin boring , Spencer’s researchers asked the younger children a series of questions and had them answer by pointing to one of five cartoon pictures that varied in skin color from light to dark. The older children were asked the same questions using the same cartoon pictures, and were then asked a series of questions about a color bar chart that showed light to dark skin tones. (yawn)

The tests showed that white children, as a whole, responded with a high rate of what researchers call “white bias,” identifying the color of their own skin with positive attributes and darker skin with negative attributes. Spencer said even black children, as a whole, have some bias toward whiteness, but far less than white children.  Another shocker.

“All kids on the one hand are exposed to the stereotypes” she said. “What’s really significant here is that white children are learning or maintaining those stereotypes much more strongly than the African-American children. Therefore, the white youngsters are even more stereotypic in their responses concerning attitudes, beliefs and attitudes and preferences than the African-American children.”

Spencer says this may be happening because “parents of color in particular had the extra burden of helping to function as an interpretative wedge for their children. Parents have to reframe what children experience … and the fact that white children and families don’t have to engage in that level of parenting, I think, does suggest a level of entitlement. You can spend more time on spelling, math and reading, because you don’t have that extra task of basically reframing messages that children get from society.”


OK, I’m no scientist, but isn’t the more likely reason black kids have a less bias toward whiteness because African-American children are simply exposed to a broader array of African-Americans whereas many white children’s only exposure to black people is through the media?

As an African-American woman, I know how diverse and dynamic other black folks are because I live the experience every day.  Why is it so shocking that white kids embrace more stereotypes?  We often stereotype what we don’t understand.    I had stereotypes about the Middle East until I traveled there.  We are all guilty of stereotyping other cultures, regions, religions etc.  If a white child’s only exposure to black people is popular culture, then we can’t be surprised when they believe we are all dumb thugs, hookers, rappers, ball players and criminals. White children being more “stereotypic in their responses” seems to be a direct product of their environmental influences.

Also, I’m not sure where she’s going with this, but her implication that white parents are able to spend more time teaching spelling and math because black parents are focused on having black power meetings in the basement with their children is a little looney.  On the bright side, now we can say our kids don’t do well in school because black parents are too busy teaching how-to-be-black-in-america classes, to deal with silly spelling and math stuff.

And as for the issue of white entitlement, as little black kids growing up we were told that we had to be twice as good to be considered equal to our white peers.  White kids’ parents don’t have to tell them that.  White entitlement exists. Duh.  Study over.  Can someone go work on prostate cancer or Parkinson’s Disease now?

As our society becomes more diverse and children are exposed to other cultures in the classroom and workplace more often, tests like these will become less and less relevant.

Instead of focusing on this notion of “white entitlement” and making white kids less “racist” perhaps this should be a wake-up call for the African-Americans to look at the images we present of ourselves through the mainstream media and the type of portrayals of ourselves that we support.  We must remember we are in global society and the images we present of ourselves are sometimes the only exposure other cultures have to us.  I think working on this aspect of our culture is far more important than making white kids like black kids more.  Perhaps, if the only black people they saw weren’t Ray-J, Lil Wayne,  Medea, or the fool on the 6 o’ clock news, we could get somewhere.

CNN reports that Spencer said the study points to major trends but is not the definitive word on children and race. It does lead her to conclude that even in 2010, “we are still living in a society where dark things are devalued and white things are valued.”  No shit Sherlock.

You know what, I’m going to call CNN right now and ask if they’ll pay me to do a study to see if the lack of fathers in the home has affected the black community.  Just watch, the results will be explosive!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In Defense of Sheila Johnson: The Real Culprit Behind BET is US

sheilajohnson21 In Defense of Sheila Johnson: The Real Culprit Behind BET is USThis morning, I read Dr. Boyce Watkin’s piece on Sheila Johnson featured on AOL’s Black Voice site. For those who may reside under a rock, Sheila Johnson is one of the wealthiest women in the country, the first Africa -American woman to be an owner or partner in three professional sports franchises (the Washington Capitals, theWashington Wizards and the Washington Mystics), a humanitarian and the former wife of BET founder Bob Johnson.

Johnson recently remarked that she is ashamed of BET and doesn’t want her own kids watching it. She stated that BET may be contributing to the spread of AIDS in the black community by promoting raunchy, unprotected sex in rap videos. She told The Daily Beast that the channel was originally started to be “the Ebony magazine on television.” She mentions that the channel started out with a variety of public affairs programming, including Teen Summit. She felt the video revolution changed the game, saying she felt pressured by recording artists to show their videos even though she didn’t like the way women were being portrayed. OK, whatever. Regardless of her feelings about what was being shown, BET showed it and made about a kajillion dollars doing it. And, personally, I have no problem with that. Last I checked, this was America.

What I do have a problem with is this notion that BET is responsible for the black communities social ills, that BET owners “sold out.”

Dr. Boyce Watkins states in response to Johnson:

“…in order to fully convince me that you are seriously remorseful of your work with BET, you’d have to give back the fortune you earned by trading in the futures of our children.” Are you f*cking kidding me? So BET is responsible for the futures of our children now?

Articles like Watkins’ perpetuate this notion that we all are mindless zombies with no responsibility for our own actions and our own children. We can be led by the nose by any company to do anything, and it’s all their fault for negatively influencing us. It’s the eternal victimhood argument. Has anyone ever stopped to think of the African American consumer’s role in this? Quick lesson: In order for BET to make money, WE HAVE TO WATCH. If we are not to be considered by the world as crybaby victims forever and always, we must stand up and take responsibility for our actions.

Is it BET’s fault if you let your kid’s watch inappropriate imagery? Is it BET’s fault that hip-hop has become nothing but a hotbed of thuggery and misogyny? Is it BET’s fault that you are not involved in your child’s education and career goals? And, most importantly, is it BET’s fault if our black asses won’t turn it off? As a community, we have refused to stand up and demand better, so we deserve what we get.

You’re going to tell me that a race that survived slavery, Jim Crow and degregation has been totally felled by a bullshit cable channel?  The argument is embarrassing.  BET is like the low-hanging fruit of the black-people-blame-game. If we can’t construct an intelligent argument regarding social factors affecting our neighborhoods, just blame it on BET. Personally, I thinkRay J‘s show, ‘For the Love of Ray J,’ has some of the worst depictions of African American men and women I’ve seen in years, yet we sit quietly by and the ratings soar. So I guess that’s VH1‘s fault? Would we dare ask Viacom to give all their fortune to the black community in order to make amends for us watching their shows? Lunacy.

In the past, BET has had to eliminate public affairs programming, not because they hate Negroes, but because, WE DON’T WATCH THEM. If we don’t watch, ratings are low and no money is made. Look at movies like ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ or ‘The Great Debaters,’ both were excellent films that promoted positive images of African Americans. But they made no money, because we didn’t run out and see them like we did Madea (who we also complain about). Yes, it is about money, and until the African American community demonstrates that we are willing to spend our money on something other than negative imagery or caricatures, then that’s what we’ll get.

BET contributes to the spread of AIDS because it promotes promiscuity? Isn’t it faaaaaar more likely that the destruction of the family unit, the lack of adequate parental supervision, lack of adequate health education for our young people, and lack of parental involvement in our schools have a larger impact than some damn BET? Watkins stated they “traded in the collective consciousness of our children in exchange for a billion-dollar war chest.” Last I checked, our communities and families were responsible for forming the collective consciousness of our children. And if one channel (a cable one at that) can achieve such a feat, than we should be collectively ashamed of ourselves.

Sheila Johnson and Bob Johnson and BET are no more guilty for our community’s ills than every one of us. We seem content to sit and talk about how terrible BET is, how terrible this is, how terrible that is. But when was the last time you called your cable company and asked them to block it from your television? When was the last time you boycotted a record label because of the images in an artist’s video? When was the last time you told your children they did not have permission to watch it.  I don’t like Tiny and Toya.  I don’t watch it.  I don’t like Ray-J’s Whorefest, so I don’t watch it.  I don’t like that dumb ass Ghost Whisperer, so I dont watch it. Why is it so complicated?

We live in a capitalist society. If we stop watching, they will stop making money and change the formula to something that will. If we act like positive TV programming is important, and support it, the sponsors will come. If we act like positive music is important and refuse to support music with negative messages or destructive images, they won’t make it. Acting like positive behavior is important in our own lives and communities are the key to changing this framework of media trash. But we can’t continue to give Ray-J sky-high ratings and then call Viacom the devil. It just doesn’t work that way.

The Johnsons owe us nothing. In fact, I think we do ourselves a disservice by condemning someone for promulgating negative images when we were the ones too stupid to reject them and turn them off. We got to do better.