Newsweek Study Shows Teens' Views on Race 50 Years Apart

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1957, A white teenage boy puts his fingers in his ears as students demonstrate for Civil Rights during the high school desegregation crisis at Little Rock, Arkansas.Paul Slade / Getty Images

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By Mia Hall
Students from Baltimore colleges and high schools march in protest chanting 'Justice for Freddie Gray' on April 29, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore remains on edge in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, though the city has been largely peaceful following a day of rioting this past Monday. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody.Andrew Burton / Getty Images

The 1966 survey, “Teen-Agers: A Newsweek Survey of What They’re Really Like” by Newsweek Magazine gathered answers from 800 teenagers across the country regarding their views on parents, marriage, spiritual beliefs, the world, their future and more. At that time, some 44 percent of teens thought racial discrimination would still be a problem for their generation.

Newsweek revisited the concept 50 years later, and amongst the results, 82 percent of teens surveyed agreed that racial discrimination will still be a problem for their generation.

As Newsweek reports, “Recent headlines—police-involved shootings of unarmed black men, the Black Lives Matter movement, Donald Trump’s xenophobic politics—reveal a country deeply divided on race, with seemingly little hope for reconciliation.” This is compared to 1966 where though racism and violence against blacks was rampant throughout the country and most schools were still segregated, the demonstrations and laws passed because of the Civil Rights Movement made people of all colors generally more optimistic about the future.

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Today, teens coming of age in the era of Black Lives Matter are growing up in a time where the death of an unarmed black man or woman at the hand of authorities could play out on a cell phone or Twitter timeline. The movement has been heightened by media awareness as technology has made it’s accessibility more immediate, and perhaps fears surrounding racial tensions more deeply rooted.

The study also reveals that among black teens, 91 percent think discrimination is here to stay, up from 33 percent in 1966.

Dr. Warren Spielberg, who co-authored The Psychology of Black Boys and Adolescents, told NBCBLK that jaded and discouraged teens should receive help from parents, schools and mental health services. “We have to help people see the racism in themselves. We have to train teachers and help boys be boys. The macho construct is dangerous and anti-intellectual. We have to help boys know they can be dependent and ask for help.”

1957, A white teenage boy puts his fingers in his ears as students demonstrate for Civil Rights during the high school desegregation crisis at Little Rock, Arkansas.Paul Slade / Getty Images

Dr. Kirkland Vaughans, co-author of The Psychology of Black Boys and Adolescents as well, told NBCBLK, “I think [the article] comprehensive and can be very informative for clinicians who treat American youth. It goes right to the angst of American adolescents.”

Dr. Vaughans, who currently teaches at Adelphi University, told Newsweek that part of the issue today is with joblessness and the criminal-industrial complex. He pointed out one contrast from the 60s: “We had black poverty, but we also had black jobs.”

The report looks at many other issues and details how American teenagers’ views have either stayed the same or shifted based on society and their hope for the future.

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