just read a pilot
study that CNN released on the racial attitudes of children.
And nearly 60 years after the watershed Brown v. Board of Education
case - in which the Supreme Court invalidated Jim Crow school segregation
- it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
the study, three psychologists tested 133 students in the 4 to 5
and 9 to 10 age ranges. Eight schools were involved, half from Georgia,
and half from the New York metropolitan area. The study was designed to simulate the
and Mamie Clark study used in the Brown case, in which
African-American children were asked whether they preferred a white
doll or a black doll. Having expressed an overwhelming preference
for the white doll, they demonstrated the negative effects of segregation
on “ego development and self-awareness in Negro children.”
the results were about the same six decades later. In the recent
study, the researchers asked the 4 and 5 year olds a series of questions
and had them answer by pointing to one of five cartoon pictures
that varied in skin color from light to dark. The 9 and 10 year
olds were given the same questions and cartoons, but were also asked
questions concerning a bar chart showing light to dark skin tones.
white children responded with a high degree of “white bias,” meaning
that they viewed their own skin tone positively, they associated
darker skin with negative characteristics, and they were far more
stereotypic in their racial attitudes, beliefs and preferences.
There was no difference between age groups. And black children also
had a bias towards whiteness, although not nearly as great as white
lesson that I take from these results is clear:
parents, teach your kids well, but better than you’re doing now,
this is a nation that still upholds whiteness and denigrates blackness.
be sure, black self-esteem is a lingering, unresolved issue in a
racist nation that cannot grapple with the whole race thing - even
with a black president of biracial parentage named Barack Obama.
that white children are internalizing white skin superiority and
negative black stereotypes so intensely should tell you that they
are not learning the right things at home when it comes to diversity,
tolerance and inclusion, if they are learning anything at all. Unfortunately,
that is how white-skin privilege works. As the self-proclaimed standard
bearers, white Americans often may not feel as if they have to worry
about talking to their children about such matters. Parents of color,
however, don’t have that luxury. And in a nation where the color
of your skin can determine where you live, your livelihood and even
your life or death, parents of color may feel the need to help their
children navigate through a color-coded society fraught with obstacles
in this environment screaming for racial understanding, states such
as Texas and Arizona would further
exacerbate things by whitewashing their public school curricula
and eliminating ethnic studies courses.
negative labels assigned to blackness and all things black are readily
apparent in the English language. And the badges of slavery and
Jim Crow remain, even as those dreaded institutions are supposedly
a thing of the past. Lynchings in this country have a shameful history,
and typically they were committed upon a rumor that a black man
raped a white woman. Black equals poverty, inferiority, laziness
and all the horrible and distasteful things one can conjure up.
Black man equals all of those dreadful things plus criminality.
(Apparently, a black man with the title of President of the United
States equals Nazi-Communist-Kenyan-Muslim-black-radical
when Charles Stewart, a white man in Boston,
murdered his pregnant wife in 1989, he said a black man did it.
And everyone believed it. When a white woman named Susan Smith murdered
her two young sons in South
Carolina in 1994, she said that she had been carjacked by a black
man, who drove away with her children. And everyone believed it,
even though Smith said the man wore a knit ski cap. As an aside,
I’ve never seen any of my South Carolinian relatives wear a knit
ski cap. And typically when this sort of thing occurs, the police
will wage ultimate war on the chocolate side of town, rounding up
all the brothers just for the hell of it.
just the other day, a white Philly
cop shot himself and claimed it was the work of a black man
with cornrows and a tattoo. Why do they keep doing it? Obviously
because they know, or at least think they can get away with it,
in a nation that tells you that these are the acts expected of darker-skinned
folks. With negative stereotypes in the media, and black and brown
inmates filling up to 70 percent of the nation’s prison beds, why
problem is far greater than one study can solve, but the CNN report
is instructive. Consequently, we need to remind ourselves that the
more things change, the more they stay the same. This reality must
be unsettling for those who risked life and limb to build a better
society. It tells you the work ain’t over, and it would serve us
well to reach the children.
BlackCommentator.com Executive Editor, David
A. Love, JD is a journalist and human rights advocate based in Philadelphia,
and a contributor to The Huffington
Post, theGrio, The Progressive
Media Project, McClatchy-Tribune News Service,
Times and Philadelphia
Independent Media Center. He also blogs atdavidalove.com, NewsOne, Daily Kos, and Open Salon. Click here to contact Mr. Love.