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April 4th, 2012
09:34 AM ET

AC360 Study: Meet Davionne, a 6-year-old boy with an overwhelmingly negative view on interracial friendships

This week, CNN is going in-depth as part of the AC360 special "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture." Soledad teamed up with Anderson for the project, talking to some children who had some provocative opinions on race.

This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Soledad profiles Davionne, a 6-year-old African-American boy who struck researchers with his overwhelmingly negative opinions on interracial friendships.

There was no question about how he felt on mixed friendships. He told the tester that kids can’t play together if they’re not the same color.

“"Why can’t you play together if you don’t have the same skin?"” the tester asks.

"“Cause your mom might not want you to play with that friend,"” Davionne replies.

Davionne consistently alluded to a 'mom' not wanting a child to play with another child of a different race. Soledad sat down with his parents while they watched his test. His mom, who is a teacher, said his answers weren'’t lining up with the lessons she’s tried to teach him.

She said she doesn’'t talk much to Davionne about race, but she did emphasize to her son that he should treat people the way he wants to be treated. Both parents said that he might have just been giving answers he thought they wanted to hear. His mom said he is a very pleasing child, but it still begs the question as to what would make a 6-year-old boy so pessimistic about interracial friendships.

See the segment in full above.

Filed under: Race
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. EyeTeachToo

    In this particular interview, the questions were posed in a manner that suggested a negative response and that's exactly what the interviewer wanted. She needed to make a story so she created one. If those same questions were reversed with the leading response being last, the child would have chosen the last suggested response. When I first watched this staged interview, I thought the interviewer was going to do that. However, that would not have made a good news story. Congrats to thhe parents for raising a good son, who is at an impressionable age, even by trained professional interviewers who know how to get the response needed to make the story. This is absolutely NOT a reflection on the way the parents have raised their son.

    April 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. blessedgeek

    Too many kids have told this kid their moms do not want them to play with him.

    April 7, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. VHess

    I'm a teacher in Baltimore City. The things that my high school age students repeat come from various sources. I believe that they have a greater ability to think independently than an elementary school student and even they choose to listen to their peers. The things that this child said could have come from any where. The mother could be completely innocent, but that's besides the point. CNN should be ashamed of itself for becoming something that this family has 'lived through' because they were 'made an example of' to the entire nation. Yes, even some African Americans are biased, so do a story on it! But why would you do that to this particular family?! This is beyond reproach. Soledad and Anderson should publicly apologize to the family.

    April 5, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. GarPundit

    My first thought, like many here, was to blame the parents, but let's not rush to judgment. What if he asked a white child to be friends and the other child said "No - my mom would be mad if I had a friend with dark skin." Or maybe he was with another child of the same race and said "Let's play with Johnny", and his friend said "No, Johnny is white and my mom would be mad." Young children are sponges, soaking up how to think and what to believe from those around them. For us humans, belief is belonging. The quickest way to get banished from most groups is to express beliefs that the group considers "heretical", so we are pre-programmed to absorb and accept the attitudes and opinions of those around us.

    April 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. kevh

    it comes from more than the parents, as a kid i remember knocking on the door of a friend of mine and he told me he cant come outside and play and i asked him why not, and he said because my parents dont want me playing outside with black people, so it comes from anywhere, and at his age, all he has to do is hear it once and its over.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Joe Schmoe

    So Lame, who cares. To busy with our own rice bowls.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Larry

    Wow, he was taught not to play with whitey at such a young age. Isn't that the black calling the kettle a pot?

    April 4, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • GarPundit

      Yes, but we don't know who did the teaching. Maybe he was rebuffed by a white kid who said "My mom would be mad if I played with you because your skin is dark." The sting of rejection is painful, and you're not likely to repeat the "mistake" that led to it once. When young, my kids occasionally brought home some toxic attitudes. When we learned of them, we treated each one as a "teaching moment", and I'm very proud of the young adults they have become.

      April 5, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. It all starts at home

    Nice job, Mom and Dad. You're the real problem. I hope you realize that.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Macmaven

    Remember that kids tell everything that they hear at home. His mother must be feeding him this diatribe and then denying it when she's called out in public And she'a s teacher no less. How disgraceful.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. mypitts2

    I'm afraid I don't believe the parents. A child this young doesn't have a frame of reference for not liking another child of a different race. We've all seen the innocence of kids of different races playing together - they clearly don't care. Inasmuch as they ask about skin color, it's out of genuine, innocent curiosity about someone who looks different from them. Race is one area where children are more "mature" than adults. This child was taught this racism by someone in a way that it has been ingrained, and the most likely culprit is the parents (or perhaps another close relative). This is sad, but I hope this segment is a wake-up call to them, and I commend them for allowing CNN to air this informative segment that will no doubt cast them in a negative light.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. GarPundit

    This saddens me. My best friend in sixth grade was black (I'm white) and it truly didn't occur to me that this might be an issue. One day we were walking our dogs together when some kid across the street yelled "Hey, look at the tootsie roll!", and his friend laughed derisively. I had to ask Anthony what they meant. I was outraged when I found out they were making fun of his skin color, and wanted to go give them a piece of my mind, but Anthony just said, "No, it won't do any good".

    April 4, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Rabbit One

    Racial discriminations and prejudices within the systems of America and the world are huge problems that must be addressed continually; however, they also simultaneously obscure the discriminations and prejudices against poor people of all backgrounds worldwide: worldwide poor people are treated like garbage by the rich and all the laws and all the schools and ways of life are hinged so that the poor suffer and the rich look like these great dispassionate philanthropists, like Anderson and Soledad – when in fact their personal lives and careers “walk all over” the poor and oppress them forever: and each time they speak (and drag children into strange experiments) they are obscuring the challenges or poor vs. rich: – they stir conflicts so that various pawns chatter and fight around the rich who will stay rich as the other die and fall after the propagandas are misunderstood.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. rand

    What a sad, sad commentary on how this boy is being raised..............

    April 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • bamba

      This child is just 6 years old. he dont know what he was talking about. I bet if you bring a white kid of his age They will have no problem.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. jj

    Yep, his Mom (and maybe more) are passing the racist idea to him. This is learned behavior...nothing instinctive about it...and he's worried his Mom might not want him playing with a white kid. I feel bad for him....carrying that around is 1 strike against him socially. Works the other way too...I'm sure there's plenty enough white folks saying the same crap. What a shame. It not only hinders the kids, but our nation doesn't reach the level of unity it otherwise would.

    April 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. anon

    Kids hear their parents conversations even when the parents don't think the kid is listening. The kid IS listening and soaking up every word. I think this mother has had more of a negative influence on her childs racial attitudes then she cares to admit. Especially to a nationally well known reporter on camera.

    April 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Jackie

    At that age kids say what they hear their parents say. He is telling you the truth.

    April 4, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Bree

    It seems like it's possible he may have had a white classmate whose mom said he couldn't play with him, and the white friend told Daivonne the reason. One potential cause.

    April 4, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  18. AllYourBase

    Yeah SUUUURE she never said anything like that to him. He's hearing this from parents, other family members, and friends. Simple.

    April 4, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Dave

    Sorry...don't believe the parents when they say they did not put these beliefs in their childs mind. If the black community wants racism to go away then they need to stop bringing it up. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and liberals who look to capitalize on situations like the Travon Martin case are the problem. Secondly, where are all the black leaders, who should be publically challenging their race to stop using "race" for all their excuses. For some, having a divided nation is a good thing. The black community are just one sub set of pawns. Sad!!!!!

    April 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  20. CT

    Racism is not a genetic is a learned behavior that needs to be taught...

    April 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Rob M

    I agree with the dad in this report. The questions she asked seemed leading to me. Loaded gun questions, to where if you were unsure of the answer (especially to a 6 yr old who is going to follow what an adult think the answer should be) you would answer yes. It would have been better to see how he reacted to a white child who really wanted to play with him. I'm thinking the action would have been different to a yes/no leading question from an intimidating reporter.

    April 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mel

    Ahhh, funny, you can tell the parents were squirming, wondering how they were going to explain that one away.

    April 4, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  23. waynesworld47

    Where do they get these ideads? From BOTH sides! PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS! Nothing more needs to be said!

    April 4, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse | Reply

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