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Teens Say Racism ‘A Big Problem’ But Poll Finds Them Optimistic Race Relations Will Get Better

Nearly nine out of 10 black teenagers say racism has little impact on their day-to-day lives, according to a Time-CNN poll released Sunday.

But the survey also found more than half of all teenagers - 62 percent of blacks and 58 whites - believe racism is “a big problem.”

Specifically asked about racism in their own lives, 89 percent of black teenagers said racism was “a small problem” or “not a problem at all.”

However, when asked about discrimination, 23 percent of black teenagers, compared with 16 percent of whites, said they had been victimized because of their race. More than half of black adults - 53 percent - and 20 percent of white adults said they had been victims of discrimination.

“Teenagers are a mirror of our souls,” sociologist and author Howard Pinderhughes told Time. “They speak plainly about things that adults would like to hide. Political correctness isn’t an issue to them.”

The poll is part of a story called “Kids and Race” in the Nov. 24 issue of Time, which will be on newsstands today. The poll was conducted between Sept. 23 and Oct. 2 by Yankelovich Partners, which surveyed 816 white adults, 374 black adults, 301 white teenagers and 300 black teenagers. The margin of error ranges from 3.4 percent to 5.6 percent.

More than half of all teenagers - 55 percent of whites, 64 percent of blacks - said they favor colleges reserving scholarships exclusively for members of minorities and for women, the poll said.

It also said one in eight white teens and one in nine blacks has heard his or her parents say something negative about another race.

Teenagers’ optimism was evident when they told pollsters that race relations will improve in the United States. Seventy-six percent of whites and 55 percent of blacks, compared with 60 percent of white adults and 43 percent of black adults, said race relations will get better.

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