Do we make unconscious judgments about people based on skin color? And, for the children involved in our landmark study, did their answers to our questions change, depending on race?
Our ongoing "Kids on Race" series has sought to locate the origins of racial issues that so often seem native to the American experience. We decided that by talking directly with children– innocent, impressionable, and honest– as they are slowly being introduced to society, we might learn how prejudice can take hold of young minds... and from this early point, despite our best intentions, sometimes never let go.
We enlisted Dr. Melanie Killen, a revered child psychologist and University of Maryland professor, to design and implement our study. She ensured that our methods remained scientifically intact throughout the process. She helped highlight and explain key findings. She offered advice and explanations to parents who allowed their children to participate.
In this installment, Anderson investigates a concept known as "subconscious racial bias." This is described as "a bias that kids pick up on– from messages they hear at school, at home, the characters in the TV shows they watch, what they see online." As Killen points, these are not overt feelings of racism, but rather "the things that we're not aware of, the things that we do when we don't realize it."
We aired the results of our research throughout the past week, and the culmination of this effort will be presented in an hour-long program on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. Watch an Anderson Cooper Special Report— "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture."
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