The New York Times

Let Black Kids Just Be Kids

THE CONCEPT OF CHILDHOOD INNOCENCE ITSELF HAS A DEEP AND DISTURBING RACIAL HISTORY.

George Zimmerman admitted at his 2012 bail hearing that he misjudged Trayvon Martin’s age when he killed him. “I thought he was a little bit younger than I am,” he said, meaning just under 28. But Trayvon was only 17.

What may be most tragic about Zimmerman’s miscalculation is that it’s widespread. To many people, black boys seem older than they are: In one study, people overestimated their ages by 4.5 years. This contributes to a false perception that black boys are less childlike than white boys.

Black girls are subject to similar beliefs, according to a recent study by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality. A group of 325 adults viewed black girls as needing less nurturing, support and protection than white girls, and as knowing more about sex and

This article originally appeared in .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The New York Times

The New York Times6 min read
Lessons on Living From My 106-Year-Old Aunt Doris
My Aunt Doris recently passed away, exactly two weeks before her birthday. She would have been 107. I have been involved in health care for my entire professional life, as a hospital executive, consultant and professor of health care management. But
The New York Times4 min read
Recordings by Elton John, Nirvana and Thousands More Lost in Fire
Eleven years ago this month, a fire ripped through a part of Universal Studios Hollywood. At the time, the company said that the blaze had destroyed the theme park’s “King Kong” attraction and a video vault that contained only copies of old works. Bu
The New York Times6 min read
Practical Ways to Improve Your Confidence (and Why You Should)
Self-confidence is a bit like the running water in your house. You may not know every detail about how it works or where it comes from, but it’s painfully obvious when it’s not there. Like when your water is shut off, a dearth of self-confidence has