Mexicans Confront Racism with White, Black Doll Video

Los Angeles Times, December 30, 2011

Is Mexico’s an inherently racist society? Does the culture overwhelmingly favor those with light skin over those with dark skin? And if so, is that a legacy of European colonialism or present-day images in television and advertising?

These are among the thorny questions emerging in online forums in Mexico since a government agency began circulating a “viral video” showing schoolchildren in a taped social experiment on race.

The kids are seated at a table before a white doll and a black doll, and are asked to pick the “good doll” or the doll that most resembled them. The children, mostly brown-skinned, almost uniformly say the white doll was better or most resembled them.

One child in the video with mixed-race features says the white doll resembled him “in the ears.”

“Which doll is the good doll?” a woman’s voice asks the child.

“I am not afraid of whites,” he responds, pointing to the white doll. “I have more trust.”

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Mexicans who saw the video said online that they were dismayed but not surprised by its results, and also offered some criticism for the agency that produced it.

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On Friday, the daily La Jornada published a report saying black immigrants in Mexico and the Afro-Mexican minority still suffer racism and discrimination that is not adequately acknowledged by the government (link in Spanish).

“[Dark] skin color is still associated with foreignness,” Luz Maria Martinez, a leading anthropologist on Afro-Mexican culture, told the newspaper. “We do not know how to value the indigenous culture, which is very rich, or the African culture, which is as great as any in the world.”

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