Required Viewing: “A Girl Like Me”

A Girl Like Me

I think I’m a few months behind in blogging about this, but I hadn’t seen this film until a friend emailed me a news clip about it today. “A Girl Like Me,” by teen filmmaker Kiri Davis, explores how race and racism affect the self-esteem and self-image of young Black women and even younger Black children. (The link brings you to the film’s page on the Media That Matters Film Festival site, where you can watch the film in its entirety.) The young women who are interviewed are insightful and articulate about their experiences around what is perceived as beautiful; many talk about straight or relaxed hair, lighter skin, and body types that are more typically white than Black.

Davis goes on to replicate the doll experiments conducted by Drs. Mamie and Kenneth Clark in the 1940s, which were presented as part of the Brown vs. Board of Ed Supreme Court decision. In the experiment, Black children were asked to choose which of two nearly identical dolls, one Black and one white, they preferred. The majority of the Black children in those experiments chose the white doll.

Davis reproduced the experiment with young Black children living in NYC; after six decades, the results are much the same. At one point, Davis asks a young girl which doll is the good doll, and the girl holds up the white doll. She asks which one is the bad doll, and the girl indicates the Black doll. Then, Davis asks the girl which doll looks like her. The girl looks to the white doll first, but then turns back to the Black one and slowly pushes it forward.

So admittedly I’m an easy crier. But yes, this made me cry. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s infuriating, that young Black (and Brown, I’m sure) children continue to grow up in a world that makes them think that people who look like them are bad and people who look like their oppressors are good. Not that I didn’t know this is what our society is still about, but this film brings it home in a skilled and poignant way.

Kudos to Kiri Davis for making a powerful, brilliant film. In her bio, Kiri says that she wants to continue to be a filmmaker; I certainly hope she does so, because I can’t wait to see what more she accomplishes.

7 Responses to “Required Viewing: “A Girl Like Me””

  1. 1 Sylvia

    You know, I read enough summaries of what happened in the film that I was afraid to watch it because I knew it would make me cry, and I have issues with crying. But I decided to watch it, and the tears are falling, but it’s a reminder that women of color have a lot of work to do in loving ourselves. We can love ourseles and teach children of color that same lesson.

  2. 2 Dylan

    This was an excellent short film that I had not heard of before. Thank you for sharing it. I sent it to my African Women professor as it is relevant to our class and I hope she shows it and gets it out in the mainstream more. It’s amazing how little progress we’ve made, and how young children are already indoctrinated with racist stereotypes, body images, ect.

  3. 3 Morgan

    Hey, great blog – and thanks for this, interesting, I’ll check it out.

  4. 4 Jack

    true that. women of color, and people of color of all genders, and of all ages, have a lot of unlearning and positive learning to do when it comes to loving ourselves. i hope that i learn enough to pass on to my children and successfully counter all of the b.s. they’re going to be fed in this society.

  5. 5 Jack

    glad to share. and yeah, childhood is where racism and internalized racism begins – with the subtle and not-so-subtle messages that society starts delivering from day one.

  6. 6 Jack

    thanks! and yes, definitely take a look.

  7. 7 BronzeTrinity

    If you liked the YouTube video called ‘A Girl Like Me’ by Kiri Davis then here is a way that you can help this shining star win a $10,000 scholarship! PLEASE vote for Kiri in the Cosmo Girl Website at Her film has really inspired me and I think this young lady has a great future ahead of her.
    You can view ‘A Girl Like Me’ on
    And please Spread the Word!

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