Racial prejudice has been thrust back into the headlines, in the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida and the murder rampage that terrorized the black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s enough to make any American very pessimistic about the possibility of achieving racial harmony. One might assume that African American children are more pessimistic than white children. It turns out that is not the case. Black kids are actually more optimistic.
In a recent study, black children and white children were shown a pair of pictures depicting one frowning boy on the ground and another boy standing behind a swing. In one of the pictures the unhappy child is black and the standing child is white. The other picture has the positions reversed. Participants in the study were asked what is happening in the pictures and about the relationship between the two children. Black first-graders were more likely to say things like “Chris is helping Alex up off the ground” instead of “Chris pushed Alex off the swing.” The black kids were also more likely to say that the boys were friends and that the boys’ parents approve of the friendship. A consultant associated with the study said the reason for the difference may be that African American parents talk with their kids about race from an early age, while more white parents assume they don’t need to bring up the subject. In the absence of direct discussion, white kids absorb attitudes from other people, TV shows, and the Internet.
The study had sobering news about teenagers, though. It showed that young black teenagers had lost their optimism, having seen the impact of racial discrimination firsthand.
Image credit: © JUPITERIMAGES/Polka Dot/Alamy
- AC 360° Study: African-American Children More Optimistic on Race than Whites
View the images shown to the children and teens in the study featured on Anderson Cooper 360° here; includes video clips.
(Source: CNN, April 2, 2012)
- “Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture”
Read the complete report here.
(Source: CNN, March 5, 2012)
- Here Are Easy Ways to Have Tough Talks with Kids about Race
Check out this article on the importance of communication about race, a subject too often avoided.
(Source: Colorlines, February 20, 2012)
- Interracial Dating Exposes Divide between Teens and Parents
This article goes beyond childhood to teens’ attitudes related to race.
(Source: CNN, April 5, 2012)