38th Annual Black Doll Show: Double Dutch – A Celebration of Black Girlhood

It was truly a pleasure to visit a Black Doll Show to recognize the uniqueness of Black Girls and the nuances of Black Girlhood at the William Grant Still Arts Center in Los Angeles, California.

In the 1940s, husband and wife psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark conducted a doll test due to social stigmas showing black children preferred white dolls over black dolls.

The black doll test results conducted by Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clarks was used as evidence in civil rights lawsuits.

In 1964, Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark were expert witnesses in the Brown vs. Board of Education and several other cases to desegregate school in the United States of America.

In 1980, Cecil Fergerson, Artist/Curator started the Black Doll show to change the negative self-image by bringing together artist from around the country to produce handmade black dolls with a variety of themes over the years to educate for example From the Cotton Fields to the New Millennium (2004), The Politics of Imagery (2011) and The War Against HIV/AIDS – Women of the African Diaspora In the Trenches (2015).

In 2006, a 17-year-old filmmaker Kiri Davis conducted the same black doll test Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark did in the 1940s and the results were unfortunately the same.

We were proud to see a Black Doll on display by our loved one Doll Artist Sharon Pittman, a retired high school art teacher and current university instructor. Sharon is also a member of the selective Los Angeles Art Association. She was born and raised in San Francisco and completed her undergraduate degree at California College of the Arts in Oakland. Sharon holds a PhD in Cultural/Museum Studies from Claremont Graduate University.

Additional handmade Black Dolls and quilts by other artists…

The handmade Black Dolls in the exhibit also touched on sensitive issues such as the hypersexualization of black girls.

Black Dolls reading a book about Assata Shakur…

Black Dolls representing the Black Lives Matter movement…

Video of a variety of Black Dolls on display…

The exhibit brought back childhood memories of me playing double dutch with my friends. Since the Black Dolls were busy playing double dutch, I took the opportunity to play hopscotch until it was my turn to jump in between the ropes.