Black teen racially profiled during class assignment on, well, racism

Findings of a social experiment at the Cherry Creek Mall in Denver, Colo., were not surprising in today's racial environment.



A Colorado high school student conducting an experiment on racism for an assignment found himself wrongly accused of theft.

According to KDVR, earlier this month, Channing Cowan, 17, and his classmates visited the Cherry Creek Mall in Denver to collect real life data for an assignment from their teacher at Centaurus High School in Lafayette, Colo.

During the social experiment the teens were instructed to gauge how people responded based on their skin color. The project required each student to approach 10 complete strangers, tell them the batteries in their phone had died and then ask if they could borrow the stranger’s phone to call their mother.

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Channing immediately noticed that every stranger either handed over their phones to his white classmates or offered to place the call for them. Conversely, all 10 strangers denied him use of their phones.

No matter how sobering the results, one case stood out as outright racist. Instead of simply being rejected, a man falsely accused Channing of stealing his wife’s wallet. After she refused to let him use the phone, two men men suddenly appeared and charged at him.

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“They were yelling, ‘Wallet, wallet, wallet!’” his mother, Alice Cowan, told Yahoo Lifestyle about the incident that was filmed by her son’s girlfriend. “One said, ‘If you don’t give it to me, I’ll kick your a**.”

One man held Channing’s arm while the other frisked him, and even his classmates, who rushed to help him, did not stop the man’s assault.

“A store employee came running out carrying the woman’s wallet—she had left it inside a store,” says Alice. “Channing never touched this woman. How could he have stolen her wallet?”

The woman in question apologized to Channing, but her husband did not. And the incident has had a negative impact on the Channing’s psyche, his mother told Yahoo.

“Since this happened, he cut off his braids because he doesn’t want to stand out,” she said.

“When he was little, Channing was stopped by the police for skateboarding home from school,” she continued. “He knows to stay calm in situations like this, to get home alive, and let mom and dad handle the situation.”

Channing included the video of the assault to his project. For their part, his parents plan to file a police report against the men who grabbed, restrained and frisked Channing, they told Yahoo.