The Biased Presentation of a Racial Bias Special Part 3

From the CNN AC360 Special “Black or White: Kids on Race” – hosted by Anderson Cooper

During one segment Anderson asked a brown-skinned boy and brown-skinned girl what complexion they preferred.  The boy pointed to the whitest child in the picture.  When asked why, he said he didn’t know.  The girl selected the shade closest to white.  When asked why, she touched her face and hand and said, “I just don’t like the way brown looks cause the way brown looks looks really nasty for some reason but I don’t know what reason.”  Time was alloted for this heartbreaking duo who wished to have white skin.

Here’s how much time was alloted to the 9 and 10-year-old Black children whose responses reflected a negative white bias or a positive Black bias.

Black boy with cornrows.

  • Which child is ugly?  (He selects the whitest boy.) Why is he ugly?
  • BLACK BOY: Cause he looks like he’s white. No follow-up question. He’s never seen again.

Light-skinned Black girl.

  • Which child is dumb? (She points to the whitest girl.) No follow-up question. We never hear her voice.  She’s never seen again.

Dark-skinned Black girl. 

  • Which child is bad? (She selects the second lightest girl.) Why is she bad?
  • BLACK GIRL: Because she makes fun of everybody else’s skin color.  No follow-up question. We don’t see her again.

Brown-skinned Black girl. 

  • Which child is smart?  (She picks the darkest girl.) No follow-up question. We never hear her voice and we see her briefly in passing.

The fact that this brown-skinned child chose the darkest girl as the smart girl surely should have warranted follow-up questions.  Her racial self-esteem appears to be healthy despite all of the negative Black images she’s inundated  with.  She was passed over so that the TV Special could focus on children who had a negative Black bias and a positive white bias.

This Special didn’t devote any airtime to Black children who gave positive responses about Black skin and negative responses about white skin.  Black viewers are orally and visually clobbered with negative Black bias.   In contrast, white viewers are largely spared from hearing Black children make negative racial remarks about white people.  White viewers in general are mostly shielded from hearing Blacks make unflattering comments about white people.  Whites are not subjected to anti-white language or images that might cause them to have a visceral reaction. It’s part of the American way.

When the younger Black kids were asked, What child has the skin tone most children dislike, more than 61% chose the two darkest shades.  The 39% who disliked the lighter shades were never heard from.  When they were asked to point out the ugly child Black children chose the two darkest shades more than 57%.  The 43% who viewed the lighter skin and white skin as “ugly” were also never heard from. This TV Special killed their mics.

Three white children in the older group who gave “race neutral responses” were all shown on screen at the same time, a three-way split screen.   There was no audio for their three second appearance and we never saw them again.  Since their comments weren’t biased against Blacks, they were put on mute.   A fourth “race neutral” white girl was asked to point to the “good-looking” child and she selects all of them. The interviewer asked her what she was thinking.  The child said she didn’t care if the kids where “Black, white or mixed” what matters is who they are.  That’s the closest Black viewers came to hearing a white child say something positive about Blacks.

A Black psychologist headed this project and one of her findings showed that a negative bias towards Blacks is still very much a part of our culture.  That’s evident in the manner this Special is presented even though that’s probably not the intent.  I don’t know if the psychologist was involved in editing this Special, I suspect CNN took charge of that, but whoever had the final say determined what viewers endured or didn’t endure.  The manner in which this Special is presented perpetuates racial bias and white superiority.  That might stem more from rote then ill intent, but the end result is still the same from the viewer standpoint.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Matari on January 23, 2013 at 8:07 pm


    Reading this post reminds me why I rarely watch tel-lies-vision! I believe one of its primary functions of ALL MEDIA is to DELUDE them and to CONFUSE us, or as you say – “… perpetuate racial bias and white superiority,”

    You say it may be more rote than ill intent – but its root is buried deep in deliberate intentions. Personally, I don’t believe in accidents or coincidences – but that’s just me. : ))

    Whiteness is a very, very cunning adversary.
    Keep up the good writing!


    • I know it’s not just rote and that it’s calculated too, but I do think a small percentage of media folks are unconsciously adhering to a pattern that’s been in place for ages. I’d like to think it’s not all deliberate….Thank-you for your encouraging words.


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