African-American Children Face Bleak Reality but They Remain Optimistic, Report Says

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Teens

A new report from the Children's Defense Fund finds African-American children pay a price because of their skin color. Credit: Corbis

People see the first African-American president in the Oval Office and talk of a "post-racial society" where trivial differences of race and ethnicity no longer matter.

Not so fast.

The Children's Defense Fund reports we're not there yet -- especially when it comes to kids.

The black tax remains in force.

That's the price African-Americans pay simply because of the color of their skin, according to the Children's Defense Fund, and children have been paying a higher price for it in just the past six years.

Higher crime rates and debilitating economic conditions paint a bleak picture for African-American young people. However, the kids themselves are optimistic -- with 72 percent saying life is better for them than it was for their parents.

The findings are part of "The State of Black Children and Families," released last week by the Children's Defense Fund. The Washington-based advocacy group hired researchers to interview some 1,200 African-Americans in November and December.

Approximately 800 of those interviewees were adults. The rest were kids between the ages of 11 and 17.

Some seven out of 10 African-American adults reported black children face a "tough or really bad" climate due to poor schools, guns, weak families and a generally negative portrayal of black people in the media.

The Children's Defense Fund released a separate study in December that only confirms those impressions.

In 2010, only 13 percent of black teens living in households with annual incomes below $40,000 were employed during an average month. The study also found more than half of black teens come from families earning less than $40,000.

Two-thirds of African-American children come from low-income families. From 2008 to 2009, real median income declined by 4.4 percent in black households, compared with 1.6 percent for white households.

The last time the Children's Defense Fund issued a report on African-American children was in 1994. Since then, conditions have gotten worse, but hope is on the rise.

Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright-Edelman says the challenge now is to keep the momentum going.

"We need to create models that get students pumped up and excited about learning," she said at a Jan. 13 press conference covered by Scripps News. "We need to create strong children inside so they can withstand corrosive messages from the media."

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