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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  • Anonymous

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

  • Even Jesse Jackson knows when he’s in danger and when he’s safe.

  • Anonymous

    Hi this is Girlish.

    Light skin has been universally preferred in many cultures way before colonialism and that includes ancient Aztec society.  As far as the lack of black faces on Spanish TV, that’s because Afro-Mexicans are extremely rare.  With that said, I notice on Spanish TV that whenever there’s a black actor, he’s a robber or a psychic  (blacks are often seen as more spiritual : think Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost, Will Smith in The Legend of Bagger Vance, Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile).  Perhaps art imitates life.  But it’d be nice if there were a wide range of roles for blacks on Latin TV.

  • Oil Can Harry

    Why wouldn’t these chidren better relate to a white doll?

    After all, around 65% of them are at least partially white  while less than 1% have black ancestry.

  • Anonymous

    If Ms. Martinez wants to learn about the great African culture, she could stop by here….

  • Anonymous

    “Mexicans who saw the video said online that they were dismayed but not surprised by its results, …”

    I guess preferring Whites is considered wrong. The dark skinned person is always to be preferred over the white skinned person.

    It is telling that the boy stated that he is not afraid of White people. This could be why Mexicans feel comfortable coming to America and making demands. They know that, in general, even if they are here illegally, they will not be harmed by us.

  • Of course they’re going to choose the White doll. Even Humans that young know the difference between a Human and a beast. Of course, if they do not instinctively know it, once they move to the USA, they learn from observation. Plus, as another poster mentioned, most have White blood and practically no black blood.

  • Who wants to know

    Mexicans, whether they are pure unmixed Indians from remote rural areas or the descendants of Irish and German immigrants who married with the group or the majority of mixed European and Indian heritage, do not look like blacks.

    The  Whites and mixed look like Whites and mixes. The Indians look like Indians. But they do not look like blacks.  So Obviously Mexicans will say a White doll looks like them. 

    This is just a rehash of that Harlem little girls so called experiment done in the early fifties to make Brown vs Topeka convincing.

    I can just imagine the dolls used in the Harlem experiment.  The White dolls were probably  that year’s most desired Christmas present.  The black dolls were probably heavily used and dirtied up to be unappealing. 

  • Guest

    That little girl sure looks White to me, fair skin, light brown eyes, black hair, White features.

    Why shouldn’t she say the White doll looks like me and the black doll doesn’t?  There are few blacks in Mexico.  She may have never seen a black in her life.  If she’s lucky, she never will.

  • Guest

    “We do not know how to value the indigenous culture” nonsense.  The Mexican government has been glorifying the indigenous culture since the mid 19th century.  Of course the indigenes are treated so badly they have to escape to the United States, but they are still glorified

    Why can’t we clip and paste?

    It’s a difficulty with the new system, one of many glitches to be worked out. — Moderator

  • Pc1

    If the kids assumed that the white doll was evil and ugly, the liberals would finally be happy…mission accomplished, no more racism. 

  • To Everyone:
     If you all read Mexico’s history, you’ll see they had a black president from 1824-30. This was just after independence from Spain. Google Vincente Guerro, Mexico’s black President. This will enlighten everybody here.Thanks!!

  • To Everyone again:
     The correct name is Vincente Guerrero, sorry for the first misspelling. However, look it up.
    This fact is quite invigorating!!

  • Guest

    Anthony, it is very interesting to know that Mexico had a black President right after they got their “freedom” from Spain.  Do you happen to know when Mexico rounded up most of their black citizens as undesirable and deported them all to Belize?

    The fact that Mexico had a black President does not change the fact that the population of Mexico consists 98 percent of Indians, Whites and Indian/White mixes.  There is also about .5 percent Asians.

    So obviously an Asian,  Indian, White, or mixed child would say the White doll looks more like him or her.  Asians and Indians look more like Whites.  They do not resemble blacks at all, especially the hair and size.

  • shawn gomez

    I just love how non mexican come on a Mexican forum telling us how they feel lol please stop let a Mexican answer the question and another thing Mexicans just want to be Mexican here where I’m from blacks and Mexicans and whites get along just fine but I do see why blacks feel we Mexicans should relate to the due to our native land being taking by Europeans before Europe came our names where not Lopez Gonzalez Martinez our names where stripped from us by our oppressor sound very similar to the black struggle as a Mexican I can say that 1%afro Latino in Mexico is a lie more like 34%population white people really hate blacks passionately I don’t know why lol they commit crimes yeah and so do u white so do my people I mean do you know where Los Angeles is study show that minorities commit more crimes lol the majority has commuted more unlawful acts than any