Black Mama and the White Doll


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By Mocholoko (Dr), Zulumathabo Zulu © 2020

The Preamble

When I saw the first release of the movie Seperate But Equal in 1991 in the great City of Ottawa, Canada, starring the legendary actor Sidney Poitier as Thurghood Marshall who audaciously challenged the constitutionality of the segregationa laws in the Supreme Court of the United States of America on behalf of the Black child, I was particularly fixated on the scene wherein the Doll Test research methodology of Professor Kenneth Clark was featured in the court proceedings as part of a material evidence to scientifically show the longlasting damage of racism and White dolls on the Black child. In the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education led by the NAACP young lawyer Thurghood Marshall, the favourable supreme court judgement ended the legal doctrine of Seperate but Equal.


The legendary film star Sidney Poitier stars in Seperate But Equal movie. When this writer provided computing services to the Embassy of Bahamas in 1997 in Ottawa, Canada, the great Sidney Poitier was an Ambassador of Bahamas to Japan. Picture Credit: Wikipedia.

For my Canadian Native daughter, because she was born in Canada, I vowed never to have a White doll for her. I struggled to get a Black doll and eventually found a beautiful African doll which I had to order from afar. She played with it at a young age. I also bought children’s books for her featuring Black heroes. Today she is a post-graduate university educated woman with a strong sense of Blackness. She has no illusions or misguided views about her true self with respect to the Melanin. As a result, it has turned out to be the greatest experience for her to have a beautiful Black doll at a very young age.

Some people say the White doll has a vicarious impact not only on the girl but also on the boy. He ends up thinking that a beautiful woman is the one with a light skin and straight hair. This is another topic to explore. In Canada Black men are highly attracted to White women and vice versa in spite of the ever present danger posed by those who do not approve.

Interestingly, I surveyed lots of Black men about White women and most felt a White woman was less controlling than a Black woman and she also had no emotional baggage. It would be interesting to hear what others have to say about the connection between skin colour and attraction between members of the opposite sex.

Does a Black man prefer a light skinned woman over a dark skinned woman? If this is the case, does it have anything to do with being primed through an exposure via a vicarious indirection with respect to a White doll as a symbol of beauty at a young age?

A White doll is a phenomenon analogous to an onion that evokes many layers of interconnected reality. There is also the aspect that some kids did not have exposure to a Black doll because either it was not available or if it was there, it was rather plumpy and rough looking. This type of a grotesque doll was apparently intended by the conniving and treacherous White artisans to scare and alienate a Black child from Blackness so that the Black mother only found a White doll to be the default symbolic model of beauty for her child. The unintended outcome of the choices she makes allows her to be defined by the adverse conditions teaching her children to be defined by the same adverse conditions.

This is why I wrote Mponemg’s book The Sacred Knowledge of the Desert: African Philosophical Transcendence to give the Black mother the intellectual fighting sticks to transcend the adverse conditions. This article is intended to provoke a conversation and hopefully ignite further research about the White doll and its impact on the Black child. Without further ado, a literary piece Black Mama and the White Doll.

to intimate a White gentle doll,
to install a foreign idol.
Hitherto, bred in the Black bone
Hereafter, stubborn to atone
To miseducate the Black child
To alienate from the true self
To detest the Melanin
To disavow great Benin

a White doll like dyed in the wool,
irreversible White man’s tool.
A White doll like Trojan
To deface our culture’s map
White woman beauty intrigue
To disembowl the guts of the Melanin
Like Seppuku in suicide
Black Oreo but White inside

Contextual Commentary

I have always wondered about the Black mother bringing a White doll to her innocent children at her home. No one is holding the gun on her head to do this. She does it anyways as an attestation of the indicia of subliminal conquest which mess with her mind. I have always been baffled and continue to be unable to wrap my brain around the idea of intimating the Black children to a White doll unmindful of the indellible effects on the mind of the Black child with respect to a filial sense of self; self-esteem; identity and ego development.

A White doll that serves as a new paradigmatic lense for a Black child. Picture Credit: gailf548, Wikipedia.

Studies in racial identification using a Doll Test Methodology (Clark and Clark, 1947); (Byrd, 2012); (Bonvillain et al, 2000); (Burt and Glennelle, 1998) and others consistently demonstrate that Black kids perceive White dolls as a negation of their identity. One of the consequences of this displacement identity is that a child develops an internalised sense of racial inferiority and this tends to make the child less protected when in a presence of a person who is more likely to harm the child. Whenever you treat the antagonist as a friend and neglect your sacrosanct role as a protagonist, you end up being derailed to a gravious state that puts you at a survival disadvantage.

This is like taking a buffalo child to a lion school and giving a lion doll to a buffalo child to play with. The child is going to lose a metaphysical sense of vigilance with respect to the lion and is more likely to be eaten by the lions because such a buffalo child has become an easy meal unable to preserve and to enhance the survivability of yena.

Picture Credit: Charlie Smith FDTB, Wikipedia.
A White doll the Black mama brings for her chilfren. Picture Credit: Charlie Smith FDTB, Wikipedia.

These studies also show that when presented with dolls and other methods of racial/ethnic identification test, Black kids are more likely to identify with a White doll as opposed to a Black doll. This observation was confirmed in a Black doll/White doll test I conducted in Diepsloot (Northern Johannesburg) among five Black girls between the ages of 3 and 5. They were playing with three dolls namely (1) a Black doll and (2) two White dolls. When I asked them to show me the most beautful and intelligent doll, they pointed to the White dolls. When I asked for a doll that ran faster, they pointed to a Black doll. This confirmed that the Black girl as little as 3 years old identified with a White doll as a positive role model.

Studies show that Black kids commit forced errors when answering questions about their own racial identity. White kids do better than Black kids in identifying themselves with respect to their racial identity while Black kids fail dismally on this self-identification test. Part of the problem is that a Black child is wrongly socialised using a White doll when the Black mother should be using a beautiful Black doll.

In his book Africa is My Witness, the great legend Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa reports that during the British colonial times in Azania, there was a rule that every Black family must have on their walls three White images namely (1) the image of Queen Victoria; (2) the image of King George and (3) the image of Jesus Christ. The colonists understood the psychic powers of images, a fact that prompted Mkhulu Mutwa to teach himself fine arts and sculpturing so that he could document African cultural knowledge this way. I define the meaning of three images below.

The Image of Queen Victoria

This image was there to underpin the fact that the Black land of Azania (colonially known as South Africa) was now under White rule and all had better get on with the program of unquestioning obedience and submission under the harsh White rule. Even those stubborn resisters who were still resisting, the message to them was that resistance was futile, they had to surrender.

The Image of King George

I researched about King George and found that he was a grandson of Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria was old at the time and the image of King George underscored the cruel fact that after the passing of Queen Victoria, the land of Azania was not returning to the Azanian Natives because King George was waiting in the wings to take the baton from his Grand Mother Queen Victoria so that the baton did not fall in the hands of the African Natives.

The Image of Jesus Christ

The White Jesus Christ used as an entrenching tool in the hands of the White establishment. Picture Credit: Zabateri of Slovakia, Depositphotos.com

This image underpinned the fact that a White man was a god to be worshipped by the conquered Azanian Natives. A Black Mother who brought the White doll into the house (perhaps without knowing) added to the existing aggravation on account of inculcating the superiority of Whiteness in the hearts and minds of her Black children. Taking the children to the church further buttressed this inculcation of a White man as a god.

Do you know the hypnotic power of the images in the mind of the child? The implication herein is that when the Black child first meets a White person whose ancestors brutalised the forbears of the child, the natural instinct of the child is to want to worship the White man as a god in accordance with the deep programming of the White images at home; church and school. The idea of resistance and agitation for reclamation of the land and reparation for the genocidal damages done is out of the question as far as the child is concerned. It is reasonable for the child to behave this way in accordance with the deep programming using the White images that promote the superiority of the White man. If I found myself in the same situation as the Black I would do them.

La lucha continua (The struggle continues); No rendirse (No surrender); Nunca jamas (Never never); El destino es nuestro (The destiny is ours); Thokoza Makhosi (High Veneration to the Ancestors). Tsamaroko! Ezamathongo! Mocholoko, Zulumathabo Zulu.


Bonvillain et al (2000). Development of Racial Attitudes and Identity in Children: A Review of the Literature. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Kansas.

Burt et al (1998). African American Identity Development: A Review of the Literature. Annual Meeting Conference of the Mid-South Educational Research Association (27th, New Orleans, LA, November 4-6, 1998).

Byrd, C. (2012). The Measurement of Racial/Ethnic Identity in Children: A Critical Review. Journal of Black Psychology 38: 3. Sage on behalf Association of Black Psychologists.

Clark and Clark (1947). Racial Identification and Preference in Negro Children, Julius Rosenwald Fund, 1940-1941.

Zulu, Z. (2011). Self-Perception and the White Doll: Ethnographic Study at Diepsloot, Madisebo University College, Azania (collonially known as South Africa).

Zulu, Z (2014). The Sacred Knowledge of the Desert: African Philosophical Transcendence. Madisebo University College Press: Johannesburg.

Zulu, Z (2014). A Woman In The Bush. Madisebo University College Press: Johannesburg.

Zulu, Z. (2019) “African Metaphysical Science and Decolonisation”, Faculty of Education, North West University – Potchefstroom, North West Province, Azania.

Zulu, Z. Ontological States of the Object, Unpublished, Ottawa, Canada.

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