March, 2010

PIE Paragraph

In A Girl like Me we learned about a test previously conducted by Dr. Kenneth Clark called the “Doll Test.”  This test was originally introduced in the historic desegregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954.  The directors of this video decided to add this test to the video to how society affects black children today and how little has actually changed in 54 years.  The test in this video took 21 children in which they would put before them two different dolls, a white and a black one, and asked them questions.  Some questions asked were which is better?  And which is the good doll?  When the African American children were asked which doll they preferred and 15 of the 21 chose the white doll.  Pierre Bourdieu argues that this kind of result comes from symbolic violence.  He writes:

Symbolic violence rests on the adjustment between the structures constitutive of the habitus of the dominated and the structure of the relation of domination to which they apply: the dominated perceive the dominant through the categories that the relation of domination has produced and which are thus identical to the interests of the dominant.  Because the economy of symbolic goods is based on belief, the principle of its reproduction or crisis is found in the reproduction or crisis of belief, that is, in continuity or rupture with the adjustment between mental structures (categories of perception and appreciation, systems of preference) and objective structures.  (121-122)

There was one girl in this film that when asked which doll was good she picked the white doll.  When asked which doll was bad she said the black one.  Then when asked which one looked like her she was hesitant, she wanted to pick the white one, especially since she said it was good and the black one was bad, but she picked the black one.  She learned something about herself at this point.  This doesn’t mean that she thinks she is bad but she caught herself in a contradiction.  Bourdieu argues that the dominated (in this case black) see the dominant (in his case white) in ways that the domination makes them appear, which is in the best interest of the dominant.  So it says that blacks see whites as better off in society like everything is for them, because that is an appearance that is shown. And that could be a reason that the black girl picked he white doll because she feels that the white one is better off.  This displays the symbolic violence that Bourdieu tries to portray to his readers.  There is a constant conflict within people that was shown in this video.  And this conflict will exist for a long time.

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