Identity Development: Internalized Oppression

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Chapter Reflection Chapter 2: Identity Development: Internalized Oppression

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  1. Define what internalized oppression is
  2. Summarize the findings of the Doll Test Video
  3. Summarize the assigned reading “What Color is Beautiful?” by Segura-Mora.
  4. State how the Video and Readings relate to each other
  5. How can you help a student with similar issues- what would you implement in your future classroom and why- must explain well.

Chapter 2:

Internalized oppression can occur when one group perceives a low value of themselves relative to another group, and desires to be like the more high-valued group. According to the textbook, “Internalized oppression is a set of hurtful, inaccurate beliefs about oneself in relation to one’s social identity group that results in behaviors such as self-limitation, self and group rejection, shame, and even self-hate” (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010, p.16). Internalized oppression can be seen in the Doll Test Video. In The Doll Test Video children of different races were presented with two dolls, the dolls were similar except for the skin color, one doll was black and one was white. Some children were also presented with pictures of dolls that varied in skin color from white, brown, to black. The children were asked questions like, “Which is the bad doll?” and “Which is the pretty doll?” In the test most of the children had negative views of the black dolls, including the black children. The findings in the video are that racism and racial stereotyping does impact children. Even before these children could fully articulate their feelings about race, they were already damaged by a sense of inferiority.

The reading “What Color is Beautiful?” is about a kindergarten teacher who has a student in her class, Ernesto, who told her he takes magic pills so his skin can turn white. The teacher tries to encourage Ernesto to see otherwise by telling him his skin is beautiful, but Ernesto says he doesn’t like his color. Ernesto’s comments bring back memories to the teacher of her childhood and how she was made fun of by her siblings for having dark curly hair. The teacher wonders if she handled the situation correctly and decides to make this situation a teachable moment with her class. She decides to read them a book called “Nina Bonita” which is about an albino bunny who loves the beauty of a girl’s dark skin and wants to make his fur black. In reading this book it opened up a dialog in the class about skin color and white privilege. The teacher asks her students to vote on who thought the little girl in the book was pretty. Many children voted that they thought she was ugly because her skin was dark, including Ernesto. Other children challenged the view that the little girl was ugly and at the end of the book the teacher shared her feelings that all skin colors are beautiful. According to the reading, “Young students, because of their honesty and willingness to talk about issues, provide many opportunities for teachers to take seemingly minor incidences and turn them into powerful teaching moments” (Segura-Mora, 2008, p. 4). The teacher turned Ernesto’s comments about not liking his skin color into a teachable lesson by reading the children books about white privilege and having discussions about how we are all beautiful regardless of our skin color.

The video and reading relate to each other because in both situations children are showing internalized oppression. In the video the black and brown children are choosing the white doll as the pretty doll and choosing the black doll and the bad doll. In the reading Ernesto says he does not like his skin because it is dark and half the students voted that they thought the black girl in the story was ugly. These are both examples of how white privilege affects children at a very young age. If I have a student with similar issues in my future class I would try to help them by talking with the class about racial bias. I would implement books in my lesson plans about diversity, I would celebrate similarities and differences in my future classroom. I would encourage children to verbally express what makes them special and teach them that it’s ok to ask questions. I would also have open conversations about stereotypes and biases. I would do this to teach my students that diversity is beautiful and is a strength. According to the textbook, “Anti-bias education is an integral part of the “bricks and mortar” of emotional well-being and social competence, as well as an emotional foundation upon which children fully develop their cognitive capacities” (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010, p.17). By having an anti-bias classroom we as educators are supporting the child’s healthy sense of self and will encourage healthy relationships and positive personal and social identities.


Derman-Sparks, L., & Edwards, O. J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: NAEYC

Segura-Mora, A. (2008). What color is beautiful? In A. Pelo (Eds.) Rethinking early childhood education. (pp. 3-6). Milwaukee, Wisconsin: A Rethinking Schools Publication.

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