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Writers Against Racism: CNN’s Show Me The Dumb Child

Zetta Elliott sent me this link to a CNN video that’s a must watch.  And while it’s not breaking news,  it  will break your heart (at least it broke mine).


The question I have is, what if the person asking the questions was a person of color, would the answers have been the same?  Take a look and let me know. 

Are we really doing enough in schools to change these snap judgements? It’s such an elephant in the room situation.


  1. Doret sent me this, and she found it on a librarian’s blog…it is indeed discouraging, but it also points to the corrective power of representation–these children need exposure to alternate images: books and films and TV shows that depict black children (and dark-skinned children in particular) as intelligent, civil, respectful, fun, competent and beautiful…

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Parents also need to do their part, since learning starts at home, first.

  3. I would have also liked to have seen a black child’s response to these questions, I’m never one to ride on race however I think this piece of media is horrible & biased. CNN was extremely irresponsible with this one & I am now going to try this example on my own bi-racial 3 year old to see what he says & will report back, whatever my findings will clearly reflect on what kind of parenting job I’m doing, in terms of how he feels, what he thinks of others, the media & people I expose him to etc.

  4. Wow, my son’s answers just made my heart ache – I video’d it and will post for you Amy

  5. I didn’t hit save by accident on the first video and called him back to do it again, the first time I asked him “which one makes you happy” he pointed to the fairest child – then I asked “which one makes you scared” he pointed to the darkest child.

    Amy you know your godson is kinda silly at times, so the second time (which I saved the video) his answers were slightly different as he was more interested in getting to his bath than my experiment but I have to now wonder what is it about the darker skin that made him say that, he watches Nickelodeon, Spongebob, WowWow Wubzie etc and I don’t watch TV at all so he doesn’t see rap videos or news or any of the media that showcases blacks in a “scary” or bad light, my friends range from black to white to asian to middle eastern but I have to say honestly he doesn’t see many darker complected blacks in my life & where we live is a predominately white area, all of my neighbors and people he sees me talking to/being friendly with are white people – I am now thinking of the commercials he see’s while watching the kids programming and it’s mostly very happy white children selling toys.

    I think I will try to sit him down and let him see some of the old shows where blacks were “happy go lucky” in the media like the Cosby Show, Different Strokes etc and then do this test again.

  6. MaryEllen, you are the best! First of all, what a great idea to ‘test’ your own child…I never thought of that and I am hopeful more parents do just that. I truly believe the books we have around the house and in school will turn the tide tremendously. Also, when he starts school, be sure to ask the teachers for a 21st century reading list. I believe we can change this. xoxo

  7. I too, was saddened when I watched this. I wondered about the expertise levels of the people who did the study. They are psychologists, which gives them some credibility, but they are using the same methodologies that were used in the 1940’s. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what we have learned about how children come to understand race, color and culture since that time?

    Wouldn’t it be important to know childhood development stages of how kids learn about color and race broken down by age? I would like to have seen the point of view from Dr. Marguerite White, author of the book “I’m Chocolate You’re Vanilla, Raising Black and Biracial children in a Race Conscious World.” She knows the answers to this question. Don’t be fooled by the title, her book is a MUST read for everyone who works with children.

    Dr. White, who is biracial, did a number of of brilliant studies with children over several years to understand how kids talk and learn about race. She gives examples in the books.

  8. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your blog. You have some really great posts and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an e-mail if interested. Many thanks!


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