Black Teens Judged On Race, Not On How Smart They Are.
The stakes are high for a group of teenagers trying out for a fictional television quiz show called "Smart, Smarter, Smartest," and competitive situations are a breeding ground for unconscious stereotypes says MSNBC host Melissa Harris Perry.
Perry will help teen actors perpetuate those stereotypes among an unsuspecting group of their peers, as their parents secretly look on to see how they react. Will they resist the urge to stereotype? Or will they give in to peer pressure, and racial stereotyping, when it's directed at other teens?
"This generation of young people is the most diverse in our nation's history and, in many ways, the most tolerant, too," says NBC correspondent Natalie Morales. "But from subtle stereotypes that divide to bullying because of race, kids tell us discrimination still exists."
The impact of those biases was also profound, with teens who suffered higher levels of discrimination also reporting more aches, pains and other symptoms, as well as lower overall grade-point averages in school.
According to Perry, discrimination comes across in subtle, coded language nowadays, through statements like "People of color are difficult to work with because they're not team players." It's language that she says is a lot harder to fight back against than open declarations of bias, and language that teen actors use in the "Dateline" experiment to test the tolerance of other teens.