A survey commissioned by the BBC children’s channel CBBC has found that black children are concerned the colour of their skin will hinder their chances at success in the future compared to children from other ethnicities.
The survey for children’s programme Newsround polled over a thousand children aged 8-14 from all ethnic backgrounds to find out about their future aspirations.
The findings reveal that 1 in 5 black children (21%), “thinks their skin colour will make it harder to achieve in the future,” compared to 2% of white children and 13% of Asian children who were worried about the impact their skin colour would have on their ability to succeed in future.
According to the report, children from black backgrounds worried that teachers don’t consider them as ‘clever’ and were also more keen to aspire to be footballers and rappers rather than aim for careers in the sciences, compared to children from white or Asian backgrounds.
The disturbing findings has renewed calls for more diversity in the media to represent the truly diverse community that is present in the UK- a fight Lenny Henry has been championing for the past year.
Responding to the findings, writer Hugh Muir wrote in the Guardian that black youths are already being demoralised from a young age.
“We tell our children that with focus and hard work, and a bit of luck, they can be whoever and whatever they want. But this is not the world as we would like it to be, and today there is evidence that some of that innocence is lost and childhood aspirations have been blunted. Aim high, we say; imagine there is no ceiling. But perhaps they know too much.”
Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen told the paper that he too had experienced such negative stereotypes while in school as black children were deemed not to be as intelligent as children from other ethnicities.
“It’s about belief,” he said. “Filling people’s lungs with ambition and possibilities, when you narrow people’s possibilities then they become narrow, when you widen their possibilities they become open and giving them the idea that things are possible, because it’s the truth.”
Latest GCSE results this year suggest that the gap in the performance of black children compared to children from other ethnic backgrounds was closing but there are still a large percentage of black youths in employment and a gap in the number of black people taking up top jobs.