Diverse Group of Teenagers

MTV is a long way from being just a station focused on just popular music. While the network has moved on from its music video roots to become an all-around destination for entertainment, the network has also used some of its power for good, spearheading sex education and voting campaigns aimed at keeping young people healthy and civically-engaged.

Recently, MTV decided to survey young people to get their take on race, bias, and identity in America today.

According to the network, the overwhelming majority of millennials feel equality is important, though many of them lacked historical perspective on race in the country. Additionally, most young people felt President Obama’s election proved racism was mostly a phenomenon of the past.

Despite believing in equality, the majority of young people—74 percent of whites, 65 percept of minorities—said they were opposed to programs that would give preferential treatment based on race. However, when asked about discrimination, White respondents were twice as likely to believe the government paid too much attention to the problems of minorities, and nearly half of White respondents thought Caucasians were discriminated against just as much as people of color. On the other hand, 65 percent of minority respondents believed Whites had more opportunities.

The survey’s findings concluded:

  • Millennials are coming of age in a racially sensitive society.
  • The majority of millennials believe that their generation is post‐racial.
  • Millennials feel that ‘colorblindness’ is something to strive for yet also believe in ‘celebrating diversity’.
  • Despite this universal belief in equality, real world experiences differ greatly.
  • The modern day face of bias is more subtle and most Millennials see it in their lives.
  • Millennials believe open conversation about bias will reduce prejudice, but they’re uncomfortable with the subject and don’t know how to start the discussion.
  • They don’t just want to talk about it – they’re ready to take action.

Overall, the young people MTV surveyed—who ranged in age from 14 to 24—had a difficult time talking about race because the conversation rarely came up.

In some ways, the next chapter of this is much more complicated because there aren’t dogs on our televisions being sicced on people,” Luke Hales, the survey’s lead researcher, said. “For our audience, this seems like it could be ancient history. There’s not a true, clear sense of how recent that is.”

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