May 14th, 2010
01:04 PM ET

Study: White and black children biased toward lighter skin

Program Note: See the results of the CNN-commissioned study on children's racial beliefs, attitudes and preferences, and see the children as they take the test on a special "AC360°," tonight at 10pm ET.

(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.

Watch a preview of the report here. Tune in for a special "AC360°," tonight at 10pm ET.

More links:

Read the full doll study results

Read the original 1947 doll test results

Filed under: 360° Radar • Race in America
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. crystal

    I am half Korean and half Caucasian. My mother is caucasian and whenever we would go out together people wouldn't think I was her child because of our different skin color. I use to absolutely hate being darker than other kids. I wanted to be like my mom, white. I felt like all the other boys and girls in my class were either black or white and I was stuck in the middle. I have had a crushes on boys and they wouldn't like me because of my color.
    But since becoming a preteen, I have embraced it since all the other girls began to start tanning and wanting color to their skin.

    October 21, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
  2. huzhou

    Dear Anchor and AC360team,

    Really interesting program! Asia boys like me somewhat a bit lack of self-confidence in "love", i do think "friendship" relationship rather more safety, whatever on girls or boys even around the World. Because when in love with a girl (that must can be in love with each
    other in deed) means both happiness and resposibility,especially get married, to give baby birth, is candid to say.

    Good days to you all as well!

    August 12, 2010 at 12:24 am |
  3. Ramona Brown

    Surely we are not surprised by the results of this study. How about doing another study of skin preference within the family. Or better yet, monitoring the skin preferences that are portrayed in media outlets...? Let's not blame the children for what we are teaching them.

    May 14, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  4. Gayle McCauley Malden,Mass.

    All skin colors are beautiful. I am one of 12 children and a very large extended family. I am proud of the diversity and the shades of skin that my family encompasses.To me ,my family represents global harmony,love of differences and acceptance of humanity.We range from palest white to black and every color in between.I can't imagine my life any other way.We are ONE race....Human!

    May 14, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
  5. Bobby Brown Omaha NE

    I remember watching Jane Elliott's famous blue-eyed/ brown eyed expeirment when I was a child. How easily a child's perceptions about their world can be manipulated!

    Children learn behaviors by watching other children but more often than not children learn behavior by watching (and listening to) other adults. If we adults would change our behaviors then the children would follow by example. Of course behavior change is easier said than done; what a sad example of how our society has failed to live up to the "all men are created equal" standard let alone the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr.

    May 14, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
  6. norma

    I believe that kids only repeat what adults say. The color of the skin has been important also in countries like mine -Mexico- since aztecs were colonized bu white European people, also here in a "brown" country color matters , sad but its true

    May 14, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  7. Sabba

    I dont completely agree with this article. Sometimes children respond to people who look different from them or their families negatively not because they are racists or biased or whatever but because that is not what they are used to.
    By the way i am curious to know what bi-racial children responded. that wiil be interesting

    May 14, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  8. Angela

    I am pretty sure your cousin's wouldn't appreciate you calling them Mulatto!!! I find it offensive myself to call our President "Mulatto" Bi-racial he is. Mulatto is agregrious!!!

    May 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
  9. Christi

    This is true, at least for me. Im biracial and very light skinned. All my life Ive gotten biased treamtent from blacks, who say I think Im better because I'm lighter. Even the black side of my family called me high yellow, and said I'll do better in life because I can pass as white.

    I definitely got from whites that I was the token minority in a group, and they thought they could get away with more around me because I was only half, and that I was okay to have around because I wasn't dark.

    It's a shame that it's something that's still true to this day.

    May 14, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  10. Kevin- TX

    From a teacher prospective:
    Each day I see students that have a wide range of academic abilities and this ability does not discriminate. A key factor I notice is that most students are living a self fulfilling prophecy. Parents have instilled a victim mentality or a mentality of opportunity. I see white, black & Hispanic students that have both mentalities. A lager percent of the black students I see do not have the support system and encouragement although this white population is growing as well.

    May 14, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  11. Mike in NYC

    You can't blame this on "stereotypes," as blacks are portrayed in a consistently positive - even glowing - manner pretty much everywhere you look.

    There seems to be an inherent, widespread human bias toward lighter skin, however difficult that may be to accept.

    May 14, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
  12. Molotov

    I have a friend with 3 boys and one day when I was at their house, one of them used the ultimate bad-word about black people in front of his other brothers. My first reaction was, "Where did you learn to that word?". He told me he'd heard it in a movie. I asked him if he knew what it meant. He didn't. So i told him what it used to mean, what it means now and why it was unacceptable for him to ever use it no matter who he ever heard saying that. We talked back and forth about how black people were once discriminated against and eventually about slavery. The kid was about 12 years old and had no idea that in the US, people used to own other people and that most of the owners were white and most of the slaves were black. That blew my mind! His parents had never discussed race with him but he was very eager to talk about how he felt and we had a great conversation.

    I asked him how many white/black/brown (a lot of Hispanic kids at his school) he know that were smart/dumb/good/bad. His views were pretty biased, but I think I made him think about forming those judgments by asking him how he knew that and whether all the black or brown kids could judge his own character based on the character of another white kid.

    Kids need to be talked with about skin color and race. If we just let them wonder about it, they're going to think their own kind is the best. If I had told on that kid to his dad or just said, "That's a bad word, never say it again!" he probably would have just been more curious about it.

    May 14, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
  13. chris

    The statement above is totally off. I'm a Black Man and my skin is lighter than Obamas. And I've never been mistaken for any other Race than Black. I've been Held back in my Lifetime( Career wise) because of my Race and I am not a Special case. Its just understood to most black people that the world is still very Racist.... We don't have segregated Schools anymore....but Schools are still very Segregated across America. You have many all Black schools and many all white Schools.

    Color Segregation is now covered up with Economic segregation. Black People built this country the ground up with their Slave labor but now we occupy the worst neighborhoods and districts.... While the countrys wealth is still controlled by the decendants of Slave owners. I mean come on...Fair is Fair

    May 14, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
  14. Maria H-Miami


    I think a lot of this bias is created by the adults that surround these kids, for example, look how people (including this article) refuse to acknowledge that President Obama is White & Black, complete disregard for his mother. Do we really think that this label doesn't hurt, offend President Obama????? This article refers to him as First
    Black President. What happened to his mother's white blood?

    President Obama is the First Mulatto President.

    He is as much White as he is Black, and this opinion comes from someone who has 2nd cousins who are Mulatto.

    My 2nd cousins have black skin and they will resent and take offense if you don't recognize them as white also, they felt this way since their were little children

    I don't think anyone understands how they feel about being recognized as White & Black unless you have it in your family.

    Black/White people are proud of it and like being a different race of people, is just that we don't want to acknowledge their pride and who they truly are.

    People are too busy trying to change others to their like or dislike, what they think is right or wrong, to what makes them feel comfortable.

    Black/White people are Mulatto, try to respect them for who they are.

    May 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm |