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Why Michelle Obama’s Skin Color Matters? Watch A GIRL LIKE ME By Kiri Davis

Ever since Michelle Obama became the first lady, I’ve often wondered about Kiri Davis’s (the then 17-year old filmmaker) film, A Girl Like Me. This powerful film is a montage of black girls sharing their experiences about good vs bad hair, and what it’s like to live in their skin. Kiri also interviewed a group of younger children who time after time, when presented with a white doll over a black doll, the white doll was the preferred choice.  

I first posted this in August 2006, and so much has changed since that time. And with the Obamas now in office, and a dark-skinned, first lady as the country’s role-model, do you think the kids featured in this video would still choose a white doll over a black doll?

~~The Original Post Starts here~~
If you want to watch something VERY powerful and moving, watch Kiri Davis’ A Girl Like Me. This 17 year old filmmaker and student at the Urban Academy High School in NYC, uncovers a chilling message about issues that still plague our black youth.  Simply put…Davis points out (through her interviews and by re-conducting Kenneth Clark’s 1940s ‘doll test’ that hair 
and skin color still matter.  As a result of her powerful message, Davis received the Diversity award from the Media That Matters Film Festival  sponsored by the Third Millennium Foundation.

(photo via the

Educators are also responding to the messages revealed in the film. Erin  Einhorn from the New York Daily News writes, "The film has made a mark in the educational world where it has been shown to grad students at the Bank Street College of Education and to administrators in the city Education Department. It may have had its most significant effect at Boys and Girls Harbor, the organization that granted Davis access to kids in Harlem.

There, teachers are rethinking their curriculum and educational approach. When Bernadette Wallace, the director of pre- and after-school services, screened the film for her staff, she said, "Some of my teachers had tears in their eyes. They couldn’t believe it."  (via Erin Einhorn’s article, City teen’s film shows racial rift)   

What other resources are out there for educators on this disturbing issue? Here’s what I’ve found so far.  Hair Story : Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana Byrd and Lori Tharps I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and E.B. Lewis Please add your own resources and/or thoughts in the comment section. 


  1. robin@soultouch productions says:

    Kiri’s vision and courage is soultouching. She presents the pain and wounds regarding the issue… Sharon G. Flake’s The Skin I’m In moves us toward healing.

    In Spirit, PEACE & Hope, Robin

  2. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for the comment and book choice. I was “taken” by the short film Kiri put together.

    Amy Bowllan

  3. Hi,

    I live in the Caribbean and was both touched and pained to see Kiri’s video.

    My 13 year old daughter who saw it now wants to replicate the study where we live to see if there is a difference in the responses when your environment is made up differently in terms of race and ethnicity. Is the methodology outlined someplace? I imagine that age and how the questions are framed will be very important to the methodology. Powerful stuff indeed, and a real warning to those of us with a tendency to take much for granted.

    best regards.

  4. I am a 7th grade reading teacher in an urban school in South Florida. I just wanted to cry after view “A Girl Like Me.” When will we ever overcome our stereotypes and learn to look within, finding beauty in who we are rather than what we look like? I plan on showing your film to my students and unlocking conversation about identity and self-confidence. I pray all women everywhere would overcome what the media (in all its forms) says beauty is all about.

  5. Edi/Crazy Quilts blog says:

    Yesterday, The View mentioned that ABC’s GMA did the doll experiment for a series on race in America. It would be interesting to see the results of these experiments tracked over time. They also mentioned this is the first time little girls of color can want to connect with the little girls in the White House. Heck, I admired Amy Carter, but never wanted to write her or meet her!

  6. I just cried after watching Kiri Davis’ excellent film (wow – what a talented young lady). I’m white & when I was younger, I lived in New Orleans. Through a volunteer program at work, I worked with a kindergarten class in a project. I remember so well those beautiful little kids just wanting to play with my hair and telling me how pretty I was and how ugly they were. Thank God for Pres. Obama and his gorgeous family – I hope they can help change the standard of beauty in our country.

  7. Amy Bowllan says:

    Thank you, Kiri, for sharing your experiences. It is so common and rarely discussed, so I am thrilled that you were able to tell us about project and your views.

  8. Amy Bowllan says:

    Thank you, Kiri, for sharing your experiences. It is so common and rarely discussed, so I am thrilled that you were able to tell us about project and your views.

  9. Detective cell says:

    Thanks for the information. Any other posts or blogs you can recommend?

  10. Amy Bowllan says:

    What specific information are you looking for, that would help me to guide you to good sites. Let me know. -Amy


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