Monday, August 15, 2016

The Right Choice

The Right Choice, a 14 x 18 print by Sonya Walker

The above image of the 14 x 18-inch print, "The Right Choice," by artist, Sonya Walker, was posted on Facebook by the artist along with the following associated text, which, with the artist's permission, I am allowed to share here.

We all remember the study that was conducted on African American children in the 1950s, when given a choice between a black doll and a Caucasian doll, each child was asked to pick which doll was prettier. In each case the child chose the Caucasian doll. When asked why they didn't choose the black doll, most responded with they thought the black doll was ugly. The study defined for a lot of African Americans how some of us see ourselves, don't value ourselves and use other people's measuring stick to measure our own beauty. It is very important for reasons of self-esteem to see images of yourself reflected around you. Each group of people should see images of themselves reflected in their lives to validate them. This print is entitled, "The Right Choice," addresses the issue. The print is 14 x 18 in size and it is an open edition print. It is on sale for the very low price of $15 (regular price $20). If you would like to purchase one, please visit my site at
The study Ms. Walker refers to is The Dolls Test (a.k.a. The Doll Test) undertaken by Dr. Kenneth Clark and his wife Mamie Clark, both psychologists.  The results of the Clarks' research and study of black children's attitudes about race and self-esteem were published between 1939 and 1940. During the 1950s, their research was used in school desegregation cases (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, being one).  Based on findings of the Clarks' research, the U. S. Supreme Court in 1954 ultimately ruled that separate but equal education was unconstitutional because it resulted in African American children having "a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community." []

I purchased two of Walker's prints, "The Right Choice," because it illustrates the importance of black/African American children seeing themselves in their playthings to promote self-love, acceptance of self, and to help them embrace their own unaltered beauty.   One of the prints will be shared with a friend, who agrees wholeheartedly with me regarding this matter.

As her post indicates, Walker is currently offering "The Right Choice" individually for $15.  In a subsequent post, "The Right Choice" is included in a package deal with four other prints for $50.

Check out my eBay listings here.


  1. Unfortunately she doesn't ship to France. So no 'Right Choice' for me.

    1. I can ship to France, but it will probably cost about the same price as the print. It is totally up to you Thammie TheDollMaker. Thank you for your interests.

  2. I hope you can work it out to order Arlette.


  3. This is a beautiful print and the inspiration for it is very interesting to read about.
    I was sorry to see things have only slowly and slightly improved on this topic. Years ago I saw an article in Ebony where three dolls were used white, regular dark skinned and very dark skinned with different results ( black children preferring the regular dark skinned doll over the other two) and it made me wonder if the original study had been flawed somehow but it still gets repeated with 2 dolls and gives the same results as all those years ago so there is a lot of work left to be done on that.
    It's why I hope efforts like the Gabby doll petition are successful. It's one thing to see successful role models but having a doll to love and take care of is better for changing perceptions.

    1. I would like to read the Ebony magazine article where three dolls were used in a doll test. Thanks for sharing the information about this, Maricha.

      I too hope the petition for the Gabrielle Douglas Barbie is successful, resulting in the doll's production, especially now in the midst of the campaign launched by actress Leslie Jones and others to show Gabby love.
      Mass production of the doll would definitely show her love on a major level in the aftermath of negative comments hurled at her over her hair, of all things; accusing her of not being patriotic, and a poor team player. It sickens me when people sit behind a keyboard and write unwarranted hurtful things about anyone.


    2. Reading your post reminded me that I should look for that article.I can see it clearly in my mind but I just read it in passing back then and didn't consider the importance of this topic.
      I'm relatively sure it was in an issue from the mid eighties to the very early nineties and that the study was American, but if I don't still have it I'm going to have to go to a university library* to find this because this was definitely pre-internet so I'm having no luck Googling it no matter what terms I enter.
      I heard about the harassment Gabby was subjected to and think it's so unfair and happening at the worst possible time for an athlete. Some people are really despicable as Ms. Jones herself recently can attest since she had her own trolls to deal with.
      * Here in Quebec the only institution I know had back issues of Ebony magazine was a university's library not a municipal one.

    3. I haven't taken the time to read the article, "Light vs. Dark Why Skin Color No Longer Makes a Difference," published in the May 1988 issue of Ebony magazine, but I am wondering if this is the article you read, Maricha. I searched using the phrase: three dolls were used white, regular dark skinned and very dark skinned with different results. I found this issue of Ebony.

      If this is not the issue, the correct issue can be found by searching, which allows you to search within magazines and books. If this is not the article, please let me know. Thanks again!


    4. Thanks so much for telling me Ebony is available on Google! There's so much I want to re-read.

      I read this article you linked to and while it does mention the 2 color doll study it doesn't mention a 3 doll color study.
      It makes an important point in saying that black adults faced with a choice of all people seemed to prefer black celebrities who had regular dark skin but that doesn't mean they would have reacted differently than the children faced with the two dolls choice. Besides when you like a celebrity, or anyone else you know, it's for their accomplishments not just their skin color.
      After all black people usually marry other black people but that's because adults have a more mature perspective on life and aren't going to be swayed nearly as much by anything in the media.
      The 2 doll study wanted to know what young kids felt before they were old enough for their parents and other caring adults to help them understand that despite negative portrayals in the media black people were as good as anyone else.
      However, since at the time when this article was written there hadn't been a 3 doll study done yet or the author would have mentioned it(I remember there were 3 dolls-white,medium and dark- pictured in the article I'm thinking of)that does help me know the article I'm looking for is from after 1988.
      The search continues :-)
      While I was thinking about this I remembered that I also read Essence Magazine at the time but from what I remember of the font and layout I do still think it was something in Ebony.
      Thanks again for helping me look and for telling me about Ebony being archived on Google books.:D

    5. You're welcome, Maricha and thank you for the recap of the article. I favor celebrities based on their accomplishments more than the hue of their complexions, but when I think about this, most of the ones I have been entertained by (past and present) have had very dark complexions. This is probably just a coincidence, but I loved the comedic genius of Robin Harris followed by that of Bernie Mac (both now deceased). While his complexion is a medium brown, I love, love, love Denzel Washington because of his stellar acting ability and let's face it, he's not at all hard on the eyes.

      I will read the article in its entirety sometime this weekend and continue to search Google books for the other article you mentioned. Thanks for letting me know it might have been in Essence. I am sure I was still a subscriber to Essence at that time (didn't discontinue my subscription until 2003 and had been a faithful subscriber since the 1970s), so I probably would have remembered reading the article in Essence. I have been an off and on subscriber to Ebony.


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