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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Black or White: Kids on Race

Anderson Cooper 360° Special Series “Black or White: Kids on Race” Will Air Week of May 17th

CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° teamed up with a renowned child development psychologist to measure children’s thoughts about race by recreating and updating the famous Doll Test of the 1940s. The original Doll Test explored how African -American children interpret race, discrimination and stigma. Sixty years later, AC 360° and a team of psychologists led by Professor Margaret Beale Spencer, designed and executed a pilot study to help us answer one major question: where are we today?
In the special series airing the week of May 17th and titled "Black or White: Kids on Race", CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Soledad O’Brien will share with the viewers the children’s answers and the conclusions our researchers drew from their responses. Later we spoke to groups of parents for their thoughts and reactions. One conclusion our pilot study revealed surprised Spencer, who has been a leading researcher in this field for over 30 years, and that is that the research suggests that children set their opinions on race at a very early age and maintain those opinions. After watching this series, parents of all races, will see that children are not colorblind and that talking to them about race is crucial.
In the original Doll Test, Kenneth and Mamie Clark viewed the results as evidence that children had internalized racism caused by discrimination and segregation. The study was cited in the landmark Supreme Court Case of Brown versus Board of Education, which outlawed segregation in education. CNN aims to spark a national discussion about what has changed and what hasn’t more than half a century later.

AC360 airs weeknights at 10 PM eastern

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Anonymous said...

Did CNN obtain permission to display video from the parents of the kids who appeared on this show?
If not, it would seem a major invasion of these childrens privacy. If so, it seems unlikely the parents would have given permission had they known they would be blamed for the apparently racist attitudes of their 5 year old children.

Anonymous said...

I remember that test being presented to my child, He wanted to know how would he know. The presenter (of course) could not say. I felt he decided that since it was a sliding scale test, that he could use that aspect in making a choice, when answering the question.
I felt that when he was presented with this type of questioning, it also led he to believe that there was a right answer in regards to the question "which child" and he seemed uneasy. Maybe because he never really thought about skin tone in reference to (BEING) "bad","smart".
I feel the Children's answer in this test don't clearly represent a true answer as to how they precieve others, but more so, how social media and outside sources demostrates bias towards other beings.
My son had told me that "that test was wrong, because you can't really tell. I told him, "I Know, you're right." When I asked him why he chose one child Black or White and not more so in the middle He implied because or the sliding scale.
so.. 1 2 3 4 5 how do you think he should have responed knowing the age range of the children were being presented with the test

Anonymous said...

I absolutley agree with the above posted comment. The questions were "which one.." not "is there one.." emplying that there is in fact a bad one, an ugly one, a smart one....
And it is presented as a sliding scale lightest to darkest. The choices could have been pictures of puppies and the answers most likely would've been the same. I don't feel like this experiment reflected views on race but that we as a society label "black/dark" as representing "bad", especially in cartoon drawings for children. I think a better test would have had the colors in random order and the questions would've have been more like "is there...if so which one? how can you tell?"
My son (who is BW biracial) is seven and I doubt he would've questioned the adult about how to tell which one. We do talk about race often and have an extremly diverse family and group of friends, and I'm sure he would've chosen the darkest drawings as the negatives. That would not lead me to believe that my child has race issues.

Anonymous said...

It's evident that CNN had the best intentions, just by simply acknowledging the fact that a large percentage of "White America" is still not comfortable with people of color.....I certainly can't imagine FOX addressing an issue of this nature, even it meant boosting their ratings. However, with all of CNN's best intentions,even they are not playing the so-called "child race evaluation" game fair. Otherwise, why would they display the sample chart depicting the whitest child first..all other nationalites in the center...and of course last but not least, the darkest child(in 2010)last. Why not mix them up? For that matter, why not use real children? Children relate to colors as they would crayons in a box.......for christ sake! we're talking human beings here!
So you see, this seriously shows CNN being either disingenuous regarding this issue,or how deeply racism has consciously or subconsciously penetrated this society.
Personally I believe racizm will continue to exist in any society, as long as ONE man needs the approval of ANOTHER man as to why he should exsist on the face of this earth......Who died and left THAT MAN in charge?