“She’s Ugly Because She’s Black”: White + Black Children Biased Toward Lighter Skin

From CNN:

A white child looks at a picture of a black child and says she’s bad because she’s black. A black child says a white child is ugly because he’s white. A white child says a black child is dumb because she has dark skin.

This isn’t a schoolyard fight that takes a racial turn, not a vestige of the “Jim Crow” South; these are American schoolchildren in 2010.

Nearly 60 years after American schools were desegregated by the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, and more than a year after the election of the country’s first black president, white children have an overwhelming white bias, and black children also have a bias toward white, according to a new study commissioned by CNN.

More footage from the study

When this group of children are asked questions like “show me the dumb child” and “show me the bad child,” [@ the 5:00 mark] their answers show that even at a young age, our society is clearly communicating certain messages about race that even children pick up on.

However, all is not lost. The video below, while at times heart wrenching, ends with hope for the future of race relations – American children who are not color-blind, but rather not as color conscious as generations before them. To quote the young man who is asked “which child would you like as a classmate,” he responds “All of them… I don’t really care what color they have.


3 responses to ““She’s Ugly Because She’s Black”: White + Black Children Biased Toward Lighter Skin

  1. Very interesting and powerful blog. I will say that I agree that our society has a way of portraying fairer skin as positive and darker skin as negative. But we also have to place the blame on parents. Our children should be taught that they are beautiful no matter the shade of their skin. Sadly this isn’t always the case, and I can almost guarantee that adults initially spoke the negative and positive statements these children are repeating.

  2. We as a society have progressed, but progress is only that as long as there is forward motion. This video is not alarming, or news. It is both an achievement of how far we’ve come, and an onus of how far we still have to go. I believe this generation will be the last to hold such views. Then, human nature will find some other criterion to discriminate against. From racism to sexism to classism to _____ism. We’ll find true integration and acceptance the day we find world peace. If we ever, find, world, peace (dramatic stutters).

  3. I don’t think it does show progress. White children still pointed to the darkest colored cartoon as representative of the dumb or bad or ugly child. And the African-American children pointed to the white cartoon as the skin color they wanted. There were only FOUR children who felt like skin color didn’t matter- minorities. What was that? I don’t think its progress.

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