CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° teamed up with a renowned child development psychologist to measure children’s thoughts about race by recreating and updating the famous Doll Test of the 1940s. The original Doll Test explored how African -American children interpret race, discrimination and stigma. Sixty years later, AC 360° and a team of psychologists led by Professor Margaret Beale Spencer, designed and executed a pilot study to help us answer one major question: where are we today?
In the special series airing the week of May 17th and titled "Black or White: Kids on Race", CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Soledad O’Brien will share with the viewers the children’s answers and the conclusions our researchers drew from their responses. Later we spoke to groups of parents for their thoughts and reactions. One conclusion our pilot study revealed surprised Spencer, who has been a leading researcher in this field for over 30 years, and that is that the research suggests that children set their opinions on race at a very early age and maintain those opinions. After watching this series, parents of all races, will see that children are not colorblind and that talking to them about race is crucial.
In the original Doll Test, Kenneth and Mamie Clark viewed the results as evidence that children had internalized racism caused by discrimination and segregation. The study was cited in the landmark Supreme Court Case of Brown versus Board of Education, which outlawed segregation in education. CNN aims to spark a national discussion about what has changed and what hasn’t more than half a century later.
AC360 airs weeknights at 10 PM eastern