Last Friday night for the Facing Race conference featured a performance line-up of spoken word poets, musicians, and jazz legend Eddie Palmieri. It also featured 17-year old Kiri Davis, whose film "A Girl Like Me" has stirred up controversy about how far we've progressed with racial equality since the 1940s; how the state of racial inequality impacts the self-esteem and self-identity for young Black people in the U.S. Davis created this movie when she was just 16, through Reel Works Teen Filmaking a free afterschool program sponsored by HBO.
The first part of her film are interviews with young Black women who share their experiences growing up dark skinned while reflecting the internalized values that comes with having a certain skin color. They address the stereotypes of Black women that inform their own personal identity. Then it segues into "The Doll Test" of a psychologist husband and wife team, Kenneth and Mamie Clark that was used to overturn racial segregation in the famous Brown vs. Board of Education case. Kiri reconducts The Doll Test in the film and the results are devestating--even after fifty three years, our youth are still impacted by race in the same way as youth in the 1940s.
I'm very grateful that Kiri made this movie. She was at the conference to present this film and it was refreshing to see how youth in high school understand politics and it's implications in their lives.