The Effects of Racism on Young Minds


Sage Sherburne, Herald Writer

     In the year 1955, a young boy begged his mother to go with his uncle for the summer. His mother eventually let him go, this boy contracted Polio that left him with a slight stutter when he was little. Now being 14 years old, didn’t know how things worked in the south, he was from Chicago. He went to the store with the rest of his cousins and friends. He dared to go into a store where this white woman named Carolyn Bryant owned with her family. She was familiar with some of the black people that worked there. When the boy went in, he bought some candy and paid for it and smiled at Carolyn. No one knows what happened inside the store except the boy and Carolyn. His younger cousin came in to take him, when Carolyn walked out she went to go get a pistol and the boy whistled. Then Carolyn’s husband and brother went to Mose Wright’s house on August 28th, 1955 to take the boy, they beat him, and as he cried people heard but were too afraid to do anything to stop it. He yelled with agony, and screamed and screamed. Then they shot him, hung him with a fan wire and threw him in the river. It took a good couple of days until they found him. Then the trial happened, people kept saying that the body they found was not that of the boy that went missing. But you would think a mother would know their child, and she did. She fought and fought for her son. He was just 14 years old, when he lost his life for a lie. And they continued to lie even after. The boys name was Emmett Till, and his death inspired the first Civil rights movement, and also the till anti-lynching bill. The bill failed 200 times until this year.

     I always say there is always more than one side of the story, but the dead don’t get to tell it, and no one listens to the family. For years white police officers have gotten away with abusing power and saying “acted in self defense” to justify killing unarmed black men, women and children. And speaking of kids, do you know how it feels for them to see black people killed because of their skin color? The same skin color they have? Or do you know how it feels to watch TV, and not see a person who looks like them? I can tell you growing up and watching Disney princess or Barbie and wondering where am I? Definitely something a 5 year old shouldn’t have to think about. But in 2009, after years of parents and children arguing with Walt Disney. They decided to make a black Disney Princess, Tiana in The Princess and the Frog. And that was the first of changing history. Throughout TV history, networks have a tendency to make shows intended for black people and hire white actors to play them. This is called Whitewashing, and it happens a lot, and actually in 1878, historians traced this back to the mid-19 century of black Americans in theater.

     Growing up as an African American and watching shows like KC Under Cover and That’s so Raven, Shake it up, portraying an African American as the main character. I was livid because I saw people looking like me. But deep down inside watching shows like Jessie, Suite Life on Deck and it’s spin off, Sofia the First, I felt unrecognizable and invisible. Because every child and adult watches TV, and to see someone that doesn’t look like you it feels like people don’t really see you. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the classic Disney movies and I still love Jessie because of that one black girl in the show. Nowadays they’re doing better with portraying black characters, but the acting, model, singing industry is still very much a racist world to be in. In 2009, when they came out with Princess and the Frog I was so excited because I felt like I was finally being seen, and I know so many Black Americans too. But in some ways the movie is still racist. Although the song “Almost there” is about her achieving her fathers dream, and not wanting a man. She still ends up falling for the frog prince, and she too got turned into a frog.

     It’s been 156 years since slavery ended, and throughout the 60s black leaders have fought for our right to be free. And now in the 200s, no one fights for our right to be free anymore. And we’re still scared and unsafe to walk the streets and drive cars in fear of being stopped at any moment. Black children shouldn’t have to be scared at an early age, and black children shouldn’t have to feel invisible because they’re not being represented in the acting industry. They’re doing a little better with portraying black casts, like Grownish, Blackish, Black Lighting, Media franchise. But we still have ways to go to make sure the next generation feels included. And completely getting rid of racist slurs in schools as well would make black kids feel like they belong. 

     The effect of racism for black children damages their self worth and self of belonging. Between 1980 and 1995, the suicide among black people have doubled 8 times per 100,000 people.  To increase the self worth and self of belonging in our black children, we need to make them feel inclusive, and not paint African Americans as a negative picture. But a positive one, do not make them to be the villain but the hero in the story.  Not all black people are bad, and not all black people should suffer because one black person was the villain. And more importantly our black children shouldn’t suffer, because white Americans can’t change their old ways, and take accountability for what their ancestors have done and realize that they are in the wrong, they are the villains of this story and they have a duty to make things right. And end this 1000 year war.

“History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.”

– Michelle Obama: first Black First Lady of the United States of America