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Even 5-Year-Olds Can be Racist

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A 5-year-old in Georgia took part in a CNN study about race. And her answers to the questions stunned her mother so much it brought tears to her eyes.

The girl, a Caucasian, examined five cartoon images of girls -- all identical save for their skin color, which ranged from light to dark. The administrator asked who the smart child was, and the girl pointed to a fair-skinned doll. When asked who the mean child was, she pointed to a dark-skinned doll. The little girl justified her choice by saying that the white girl was good because "she looks like me." She called the black child ugly because "she's a lot darker." Her mom, bearing witness to this sad reveal, just started crying. And what's even more sad and disturbing is, her daughter wasn't the only kid responding in this way.

This CNN pilot study, designed to discern children's attitudes about race, show that white children have "an overwhelming [positive] bias" toward other white people, and that black children feel the same about white children -- but not nearly as emphatically.

Of 133 children from eight N.Y.C. and Georgia schools that fit the very specific economic and demographic requirements of the study, it was discovered that white parents don't discuss race with their kids as much as black parents do.

The 5-year-old's mom said that her daughter had "never asked [me] about color" and that they "talked a long time about it" after the study. Apparently this is somewhat typical. Back in 2007, a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family revealed that 75 percent of white families with kindergartners never, or almost never, talk about race. But what's interesting is that 75 percent of black parents DO address race issues with their kids.

One dad of an African-American participant said of the study, "You cannot get away from the fact that race is a factor, but hopefully what we instill in [our kids] at home will help them to put that in its right place and move on."

Do you feel it's necessary to discuss race issues with your kindergartner?


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