VIDEO: NYC 12-Year-Olds Heartbreaking Discussion About Race | Kulture Kritic
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VIDEO: NYC 12-Year-Olds Heartbreaking Discussion About Race

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VIDEO: NYC 12-Year-Olds Heartbreaking Discussion About Race

being 12

April V. Taylor

Being 12-years-old is difficult for many pre-teens as they sit awkwardly between being a child and a teenager.  Most pre-teens are just beginning to question authority and develop their own sense of self-identity, and while the transitional journey y is awkward and confusing for most tweens, it is even more tortuous for children of color, particularly now when high-profile issues of racial violence have dominated headlines.

New York Public Radio’s Being 12 series has explored a number of topics with New York middle schoolers, and one of their recent installments, entitled, “‘Because I’m Latino, I Can’t Have Money?’ Kids on Race,” delves into the good, the bad, and the ugly of race and racial identities. In a heart-wrenching segment, New York City tweens prove that racism is far from a ‘grown-up’ problem by discussing how racism and stereotypes have negatively impacted their lives and self-esteem.

The “Kids on Race” segment starts out with some of the kids talking about their race and/or ethnicity and their experiences with being made fun of or racially profiled because of it. One girl discusses visiting a restaurant where the waitstaff had her family pay for their meal in advance because they thought her family may steal.

Student Amani Brown talks about not trusting the police and being very disappointed by recent events. Brown says she wears her hoodie while walking around her Brooklyn neighborhood because, “My hood is my wall. I don’t feel safe without my hood on. Anytime I’m outside, I always have my hood on no matter what.”Another boy brings up being scared of getting stopped by the cops just for walking down the street.

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One biracial boy talks about what it is like to be the child of an interracial couple, stating, “I think there’s this anxiety that comes with being biracial that eats away at you, almost like you have to prove yourself, that you’re one or the other. I hear the phrase ‘you’re not Black’ all the time.”

The video also includes a girl, who appears white, giving her poignant explanation of what white privilege is. She states, “I think white privilege is the idea that in your everyday life, you’re getting treated differently and sometimes with more respect — or people just trust you more, or they have certain expectations of you, like that you might be smarter or you might be wealthier because you’re white. It makes me feel guilty sometimes, even though it’s not my fault, I feel guilty for having a privilege I don’t deserve.”

In contrast, a Black girl, who is adopted and lives with her two dads, talks about people expecting her to talk “ghetto” and assuming she is uneducated as well as being racially profiled while shopping with a friend. She recounts, “Just this weekend, I went with my friend to Urban Outfitters and we were shopping, and I really wanted to try on this dress, and this lady that was just, like, there, she was kind of watching me,’ she says. ‘And [I’m] just like, um, I’m not gonna steal it or anything.'”

Perhaps the most emotional and startling thing about the tweens revelations is the fact that some of them feared they would be subjected to violence because of their race.


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