Posted on December 10, 2021

What Teens Think About White Privilege, Discrimination and How Their Generation Will Treat People When They Grow Up

William Bishop and Emily Guskin, Washington Post, December 7, 2021

White, Hispanic, Black and Asian teenagers have sharply different expectations for whether their race or ethnicity will help or hurt their ability to get ahead in life, as well as the existence of White privilege, according to a Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted earlier this year.

Overall, about 2 in 10 teens said that their race or ethnicity would help them get ahead in life, roughly 2 in 10 said it would hurt them, and almost 6 in 10 said their race would make no difference in their ability to get ahead.


A 57 percent majority of all teens, including 78 percent of non-White teens, said that White people benefit “a great deal” or “a fair amount” from advantages in society that Black people don’t have. That was similar to views among U.S. adults in an August 2020 Pew Research Center poll, where 59 percent of adults said White people benefit from advantages.

The Post-Ipsos poll found substantial differences by race among teens when asked about White privilege. Roughly 9 in 10 Black teens, 8 in 10 Asian teens and 7 in 10 Hispanic teens said that “White people benefit from advantages in society that Black people do not have,” while just under 4 in 10 White teens said the same. About 6 in 10 White teenagers said that White people benefit “not too much” or “not at all” from advantages.

About 6 in 10 teens also said that Black people are often treated unfairly because of who they are, including nearly 9 in 10 Black teens and about 7 in 10 Hispanic and Asian teens. White teens were split, with 49 percent saying Black people are “very” or “somewhat” often treated unfairly and 51 percent saying discrimination against Black people occurs “occasionally” or “rarely.”

A far smaller 14 percent of teens said that White people often face unfair treatment in society, including 4 percent of Asian teens, 10 percent of Black and Hispanic teens, and 18 percent of White teens.


Just under 6 in 10 teenagers said that racial discrimination is “a major threat” to their generation, including larger shares of Black (85 percent), Hispanic (69 percent) and Asian teens (68 percent) than White teens (43 percent).