Over the summer, Local Circles, in partnership with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, hired ten teens to explore social topics through interactions with the community. Dream 10, as we named ourselves, used surveys, interviews and focus groups to gather factual evidence to our research question, “In what ways does racial stereotyping affect African-American teens?” When we were originally asked to decide on a particular issue within the community that involved teens we thought about exploring different topics. As a group we had to brainstorm a list of topics to research, but we agreed on the one issue that impacts Detroit’s youth more than they know, which is none other than racial stereotyping. Through this program, we not only learned how to conduct ourselves in the workplace, but we completed a project that will make the citizens of Detroit more aware of the social environment in which they live.
Each research method required different skills to acquire accurate data. The short survey we had our participants fill out consisted of 6 simple questions which were based on place, reaction and impact. During each of the interviews the participants were interviewed based on knowledge, perspective, and experience. Our last method was the focus groups which consisted of a group of teens relating to each other through their personal experiences with racial stereotyping.
Through each of these methods we learned that 54% of teens that we surveyed said stereotyping takes place in school. Not everyone in our research was racially stereotyped, but for the ones who were the most common response was to walk away (46% of participants). Their reason for this response was to ensure safety and to not escalate the conflict. Eighty-eight percent (88%) agreed racial stereotypes impacts teens self-esteem. Stereotypes such as beauty standards are damaging to the views of youth. One of our participants said, “It can change your views of what’s beautiful and what’s not beautiful.” Educating people of the mental trauma of racial stereotyping is a tactic in fixing the issue of negative social interactions.
In the near future, our group’s goal is to present our project to the youth that participated in the research methods. An action committee will be formed relating to learning ways of dealing with racial stereotyping, understanding the impacts of stereotyping and educating others. Local Circles plans to continue to work hard and push further and to promote social change throughout our community.