A recent study out of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that people are less inclined to donate money to charitable organizations that help Black youth.
Though very young Black children receive enthusiastic support from charitable donors, that enthusiasm simply disappears once they reach they’re teenage years, and negative stereotypes of Black youth (as lazy, unreliable, stupid, etc.) kick in.
“For Charles Gallagher, chair of LaSalle University’s sociology department, the study’s findings ring true. ‘The perception is that being a drug-dealing thug is the norm,” he says.
“Given this belief, individuals may be more willing to give money to children rather than teens because the thinking might be it’s too late to turn the [black] teens’ life around, while supporting young children can make a great difference.’”
Meanwhile, organizations that help white or diverse populations of youth do not see this kind of drop off in support and enthusiasm.
According to research team leader Deborah Small, any organization whose aim is to help Black youth needs to be mindful of this major financial roadblock.
“Small says that the best bet for charities that serve black kids would be to put the focus on the “really young” ones in their materials, if they want to minimize negative associations and maximize charitable contributions. It doesn’t exactly get to the heart of the problem, but the numbers — in the study and in the organizations’ budgets — don’t lie.
Naison sees the stereotypes (the same ones that commentators believe explain why Trayvon Martin was shot by a neighborhood-watch captain, for example) that work to smother charitable giving to black teens as part of a larger problem. He advocates aggressively tearing down the negative associations through active “image management” on the part of black America — specifically, by getting a critical mass of African-American adolescents visibly involved in activities that improve their communities.”
This breaks my heart. There is so much that needs to be done in regards to young black people, the world’s opinion of them, and changing both the reality and the perception. It makes me sad but it also reaffirms me in the decision I’ve made to dedicate the next year of my life to serving at-risk, Black adolescents. There aren’t enough people who believe in them.