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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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We still have a long way to go with self image on way to racial equality

Jan Polek The Spokesman-Review

Last week’s Supreme Court decision declaring that public schools in Seattle and Louisville can’t take explicit account of race to achieve integration brought Brown v. Board of Education back into the limelight.

I had been thinking about that ruling after viewing a brief documentary by a 17-year-old high school student called “A Girl Like Me.” It replicates the original black doll/white doll test done by Dr. Kenneth Clark 30 years ago – one of the factors influencing the Brown decision.

In this latest version, young black children are asked questions about the beauty, goodness and niceness of black versus white dolls.

Astoundingly, the results are exactly the same in both tests, despite the years separating them – the black children still overwhelmingly prefer white dolls.

You can go watch “A Girl Like Me” by Kiri Davis at /umedia /collection /2052, but as Leonard Pitts Jr. warned in a recent column, “If you have a heart, the new doll test will break it.”

One is tempted to talk about Barbie or Paris Hilton, but the issue is more complex than these models.

The realization that there has been no apparent change in the way black children view themselves and others affects all of us.

‘Ma gave me a nickel to buy a pickle…’

That’s the opening line of a song I used to sing while skipping rope as a child, but recently it reminded me of a new wrinkle in the pickle world.

In May, The New York Times printed an article about “Kool-Aid Dills” describing a new taste craze in which dill pickles are marinated for a week in Kool-Aid. This creates a crunchy sweet-and-sour pickle.

My sister and I made a batch and, after using my friends as taste testers, I only have two pickle slices left. Opinions differ as to the best flavor to use, but the majority seems to prefer cherry.

Decades-old poem has eerie ring

The poem, “Body Count in Beirut” was written by Michael Kiefel, formerly of Gonzaga University and now on the faculty at Walla Walla Community College. It is hard to realize that it was written 23 years ago.

Body Count in Beirut

Under the rubble of blast-shorn rock

of charred black stubble,

bulldozers tumbled for days to clear debris

so that the dead could be identified.

It was clear by now that no life

could still twitch an arm

or cough up dust enough to be noticed

And rescued.

When glimpses of the corpses were filmed,

the bodies looked not much different

from how they had appeared in the camp photo

before they were sent overseas to die.

After all, the corps had trained these men

to keep a stiff upper everything

to close their mouths

to not cry

to stand tall and not flinch a muscle–

all sign of progressive rigor mortis.

Since they could not shed a tear,

neither could I.

Lebanon can be a dry, dry country.

– Michael Kiefel 1984 (reprinted with permission)

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