From the ages 3 to 13 I attended a predominately black private school.
My time at the school was marked by absolutely no consideration of shame of my color.
Eventually, the school closed, and I had to go to public school with children of different races.
It was at this new public middle school that I first learned about racism with such new such as “token” and “whitest black kid” among other racial labels.
There was one thing I did not understand about race though, To the black kids, I was too white to be accepted as black, and to the white kids, though I “acted white,” because of my skin color, I could never truly be white.
Year after year I found myself being classified in all sorts of racial categories and learning new stereotypes.
It still makes me cringe to this day having to remember those looks of guilt, awkward smiles and weird apologies whenever I was looked at by a member of the opposite race when the N-word (ending in “a” or “er”) happened to slip out their mouths.
This took me on a journey searching for the answer to end racism. The conclusion was: There is no answer, but something I came across pushed me closer to a solution.
A groundbreaking experiment conducted by husband and wife psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark in 1939 gave African-American children the choice between two dolls.
The two dolls were identical except for one being black and the other white.
The children were asked multiple questions such as which doll is the good doll and which is the bad doll.
The majority chose the white doll as the good one and the black doll as the bad one.
The study concluded that segregation caused black children to feel inferior to white children.
This landmark study laid the foundation for arguments in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, Supreme Court case that began the long road to the desegregation of public schools.
Since 1939 this study has been replicated by “Good Morning America” and can be seen on YouTube with many of the same results as the original experiment.
I accepted the outcome of the experiment in the past as normal, but for the experiment to have the same conclusion today is just upsetting.
The image of my little nieces believing their little white doll was more beautiful than their black doll was a painful thought.
Then there was the realization of the true-life implications of the experiment from the memories of the times I felt ashamed of my own skin color and the stereotypes associated with it because of racism.
The times I did not eat watermelon because I thought maybe a white person would look and say “how typical.”
The times I looked at members of my own race with disgust and condemnation because of the way they talked and dressed.
I at one time became ashamed of the whole black culture and its past.
Then I realized I had fallen into the trap, the trap of believing there was anything even truly known as race.
Race became to me a myth created by people to make a certain group feel horrible about themselves or different. Scholars today disagree about whether there is even any scientific validity to the concept known as race.
Some suggest the word came into existence as a result of slavery becoming a big business in the 14th century. The word “race” did not exist before then.
The oppressive concept of race was the very thing affecting all those little children who took part in the doll test — and me.
My journey for a solution is over. Racism is a form of mental abuse.
Here is a metaphor for it: Racism is a spouse who makes the other spouse feel worthless from years of mental abuse.
We are all children of the abusive relationship started by race, and we will carry the weight of it for a long time until someone answers it with reason, love — or something.
Raney Johnson is a sophomore journalism major from Shreveport who serves as multimedia editor for The Tech Talk. Email comments to rcj0...@latech.edu.