A recent survey has 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen disappointed after the results revealed many Black children view their skin color as an obstacle.
The research project conducted by Childwise, a nonprofit social impact organization that is improving the lives of vulnerable and at-risk children, and funded by BBC’s Newsround program found that more than 20 percent of Black children believe that their skin color might hold them back from being successful.
Meanwhile, only 2 percent of white children felt their skin color would be an issue, and 13 percent of Asian children felt the same way.
In addition to believing their skin color would prove to be an obstacle, the Black children who were surveyed also did not believe their teachers would describe them as being intelligent or clever.
Only 40 percent of the Black survey participants felt their teachers would give that type of positive feedback.
For the award-winning film director, the situation is all too familiar.
“When I was at school myself there was this situation where Black children were not deemed as intelligent or deemed to be able to go on to do anything of any real purpose,” McQueen told BBC’s Newsround. “The circle has to be broken, it’s upsetting to think that it hasn’t.”
Black children were not the only ones who felt discouraged in one way or another, however.
Many children who participated in the survey felt that their teachers would not say anything positive about their performance in class.
A little more than 45 percent of white children felt their teachers would describe them as clever, and less than 40 percent of Asian children felt the same way.
As for children of mixed origins, 47 percent believed their teachers would say they were intelligent.
The survey also revealed a gap in how many children desire to attend college.
About 90 percent of Black children had dreams of going to college, while only a little over 70 percent of white children shared the same aspiration.
According to McQueen, the survey is proof that today’s youth need to be filled with “ambition and possibilities.”
“It’s about belief, filling people’s lungs with ambition and possibilities. When you narrow people’s possibilities then they become narrow,” McQueen said. “When you widen their possibilities, they become open and giving them the idea that things are possible, because it’s the truth.”
There was not a large variety of career aspirations between the children.
Roughly 60 percent of the Black participants wanted to be either a football player or a musician.
A little more than half of the white participants also said they wanted to be musicians or pro-football players.