Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A televised social experiment looks at teens, racism and peer pressure

In what turned out to be a telling social experiment, NBC Dateline recently put together a fake talent contest to see how American teenagers respond to racial and ethnic discrimination, especially in the face of peer pressure. For an episode set to air this Sunday, teens were asked to be judges on a contest called "Oh Say Can You Sing." One contestant was a young New Jersey-born man who was asked "to put on a Spanish accent and dress in a more "hip-hop" style."

What happened next? The NBC Latino blog has a video, with this write-up:

Though Nick"s performance was beautiful and flawless, when it came time to vote out the first contestant, a couple of teen judges (who were really actors planted by Dateline) started saying very racist and disparaging comments about Nick. These "pretend teens" kept telling the unsuspecting teenagers that Nick did not "look" all-American, or he could be an "illegal immigrant."

The unsuspecting teens looked a bit uncomfortable, but most of them laughed along with the racist comments.

Though they said Nick was the best singer, they eventually let themselves be persuaded to vote him out simply because he did not look "American enough" for an American singing competition.

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