Senior National Editor
While there is much still to be learned about the circumstances that led to the death of Trayvon Martin, public reaction to the Florida case makes clear that race relations remains an issue that generates heat in American society.
Consider two scenes from a school hallway. A white boy stands over a black boy who is knelt down picking up papers. What happened?
Now change the picture. A black boy stands over a white boy who is knelt down picking up papers. What happened?
CNN will use these and other images the week of April 2 to shine light on how children perceive matters of race in a series titled "AC360 Special Report: Kids on Race, The Hidden Picture,” to air at 8pE and 10pE, as well as online at the “AC360” blog at CNN.Com.
CNN commissioned a study that builds on the doll test research from the 1940s that examined how African-American children viewed race. In this update, 145 children, black and white, ages 6 and 13, from six schools in three states, were shown images “designed to be ambiguous to children” and asked “What is happening in this picture?”
The updated study aims to answer such questions as these: “Is race a factor in how children view conflicts and choose friends? Do children see race or are they, as many parents believe, socially colorblind? How, when and why do they form their opinions on race? Can those opinions change over time or at a certain age, are kids “hard-wired” about race? And does the racial make-up of their school and environment affect their opinions on race?”
Reading elsewhere about race, the Greenlining Institute last year issued a report titled “Post-Racial?/Americans and Race in the Age of Obama,” which examined data from several sources, including the 2008-2010 American National Election Panel survey. “People of color tend to see the state of relations between whites and blacks as being far worse than whites see it. While more than twice as many whites believe there is “a little” racial discrimination in America as believe there is “a lot,” Hispanics divide roughly evenly between the two choices, while blacks overwhelmingly see “a lot” of discrimination – by a nearly four to one margin,” the summary read.
According to this report, only 16 percent of whites believed that there was “a lot” of discrimination in America, compared with 56 percent of blacks and 26 percent of Latinos. As to whether there was “some” discrimination, 44 percent of whites, 56 percent of blacks and 48 percent of Latinos agreed. When it came to whether there was “a little” discrimination, 39 percent of whites, 8 percent of blacks and 21 percent of Latinos concurred.
Recent research out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that African-American men deal with discrimination by “taking it like a man” may suffer symptoms of depression. “We know that traditional role expectations are that men will restrict their emotions – or “take stress like a man,” said study author Wizdom Powell Hammond, an assistant professor of health behavior. “However, the more tightly some men cling to these traditional role norms, the more likely they are to be depressed.” Hammond reviewed interviews with 674 African-American men, ages 18 and older, conducted at barber shops in four regions, between 2003 and 2010.
All of this is fodder for organizations that work to bridge divides and improve communication on the issue of race, such as the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation which, since its creation in 1999, has conducted programs throughout Mississippi, a state whose racial history is known. Given a peek at materials related to the upcoming CNN reports, the Institute’s executive director, Susan Glisson, pronounced it the type of material that would be of benefit school programs addressing racial issues.
So, at a time when light is needed amid the heat, check out the “AC360 Special Report: Kids on Race, the Hidden Picture” this coming week on CNN.