Children and Race

On May 19, 2010, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke
I, for one, was not surprised to learn CNN had conducted a study about children’s racial attitudes. I also was not surprised by the findings. Here is just one example.

Children who associated positive traits (i.e., smart, nice, good, good looking) for pictures of lighter skin tone children also generally selected darker skin tones for children with negative traits (dumb, mean, bad ugly) and vice versa; children who selected darker skin tones for children with positive traits selected lighter skin tones for children with negative traits.

After reading the study online, I wonder what parents are supposed to do with such information. CNN wants its viewers to tell it where to go from here, but I hope the news agency does more to address the study from a parental point of view. We talk about race in our home all the time, mostly when it comes up. I don’t think I should start my own Race 101 class, but I answer Simone and Nadia’s questions honestly when they surface. And they have surfaced. Simone wanted to know why brown people drive old cars, and I will never forget when she told me I am black girl and she is a white girl.

As a journalist, I know it is very difficult to interview children, and it is best to ask open-ended questions. Children are far more sensitive than adults to any words placed in a question. I also know children are influenced by who is asking the questions. The children in the study were interviewed by women who shared their race. I couldn’t help but think the researchers asked the children to discriminate in situations where they may not have a choice in real life. Children may choose their friends or have desires about who they want for friends, but those choices are based on matters outside of their control, mainly where they live and where they attend school.

I can’t recall ever wanting to have lighter or darker skin. My mother is light-skinned, and she told me how hard it had been for her growing up. Her high school classmates called her “yellow,” a term she despised, and they constantly questioned her blackness. My father is dark-skinned. My mother spoke lovingly about him and his skin color, and I adore him. My skintone is a mixture of Mom and Dad’s skin tone. Maybe I am lucky in that way. I don’t know.

The other thing that struck me is, I would not want my children to participate in such a study. I would be interested in how they would answer the questions, given they have one black parent and one white parent, but I don’t know that their answers today would mean a lot five, 10 or 15 years from now. That’s something I would be interested in seeing. Will the children who participated in the study change their attitudes over time?

So, what do you say? What are we to extract from this modern-day take of the 1947 Doll Test?

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A Child’s Bias

On May 17, 2010, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

CNN conducted a modern-day doll study on children’s racial beliefs, attitudes and preferences. Researchers found black and white children are biased toward lighter skin. The test was designed  to re-create the landmark Doll Test conducted in 1947. Check it out.

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Black and Chinese

On December 23, 2009, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Lou Jing‘s stint on a reality show introduced China to her talent and her life. Her mother is Chinese; her father is black. CNN reported on what what happened to the young woman who speaks and identifies herself as Chinese. The piece shows how people across the globe have yet to accept those who appear different than them. They called her names, tried to push her away. Jing, 20, kept her poise.

“I think I’m the same as all the girls here, except for my skin color,” she said, before leaving the reality show. “We share the same stage and the same dream. I’ve tried my best, so no matter what happens, I’ll hold onto my dream.”

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