In the summer of 2010, CNN reported on a study they performed in which a racially diverse group of 133 children from eight schools (four in greater NYC and four in Georgia) were shown a cartoon with nearly identical characters whose skin color ranged from very light to very dark. They were asked specific questions intended to determine each child’s perception of people based on race which found that both white and black children alike seemed to have more positive attitudes toward the cartoon characters with lighter skin color, although the white children’s bias was notably stronger.
Once white child said the reason she believed the light-skinned character was smart and the dark skinned character was mean is because the light-skinned character looked like her. She said that the black character was ugly because “she’s a lot darker.” Her mother, in tears, admitted that she hadn’t ever taken the initiative to talk to her daughter about race — her own, or anyone else’s — because her daughter had never asked, but that the study made her realize that it’s time for those conversations to begin taking place.
CNN’s report informs us that, “Research and discussions with parents of the children who participated in this study, indicate that white parents as a whole do not talk to their kids about race as much as black parents. […] 75 percent of white families with kindergartners never, or almost never, talk about race. For black parents the number is reversed with 75 percent addressing race with their children.” CNN has more details about the study available on their website. If you haven’t spoken with your child about his/her own racial identity and begun to instill a respect for everyone else’s, it’s time to start. Every child should be raised to understand the value of personal differences and to recognize the beauty in every shade of humanity.