The results of a CNN study on children’s racial beliefs, attitudes and preferences that were released in May 2011 show some startling results. The goal of the CNN Study was to determine the status of children’s racial beliefs, attitudes and preferences as well as skin tone biases at two different developmental periods, specifically, children in kindergarten and attending grade school. The study was designed to see what progress had been made since the original Doll Study of 1947.
The findings are both compelling and alarming. When kindergarten and middle school children, in schools that are geographically dispersed with comparative composition of white and black students, were asked about positive traits of children their age or in their class or with whom they preferred to associate, the answers were disturbingly consistent:
- “White students selected lighter skin tones more than Black students when indicating positive attitudes and beliefs, social preferences and color preferences.”
- “White children tended to select darker skin tones than their Black classmates for the dumb, mean, bad and ugly child.”
The children consistently selected pictures of lighter skin toned children as being smarter, nicer, and better looking; and then selected children with darker skin tones as bad, dumber, meaner, and uglier.
Where and how did such young children form these beliefs and preferences? As they grow older, become more educated, will these beliefs and preferences follow them into the workplace? Will they affect their choice on where they choose to live, work, and with whom they choose to socialize?
As parents, as teachers, as communities, what can we do about this?