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Black children misperceived as 'angry' has ramifications for black youth

New research finds that prospective teachers appear more likely to misperceive black children as angrier than white children, which may undermine the education of black youth.

The research, published by the American Psychological Association in July 2020, is the first study to show how anger bias based on race may extend to teachers and black elementary and middle-school children, said lead researcher Amy G. Halberstadt, a professor of psychology at North Carolina State University.

Unfortunately for black children, "This type of anger bias can have huge consequences for increasing black children's experience of not being 'seen' or understood by their teachers and then feeling like school is not for them", said Halberstadt.

Anger bias in school toward black children might also lead to black children being disciplined unfairly and suspended more often from school, which can have long-term ramifications.

Previous research has found that black children are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than white children.

Image credit: Citizen Ed

The recent study revealed that 178 prospective teachers found boys of both white and black racial backgrounds were misperceived as angry more often than black and white girls, but black boys and girls were misperceived as angry at higher rates than white children, with black boys eliciting the most anger bias.

Speaking of her research, Halberstadt also said: "Even when people are motivated to be anti-racist, we need to know the specific pathways by which racism travels, and that can include false assumptions that black people are angry or threatening".

It is vital that as many people as possible wake up to the pervasive extent of systemic racism in American and British culture in police practices, health, banking, and of course, education systems.

It is these common misperceptions that can extend from school into adulthood that have fatal consequences, such as when police officers kill unarmed black people on the street or in their own homes.

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