Kids as young as 6 months judge others based on skin color. What's a parent to do?
By Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
They wanted their children to grow up colorblind. But Vittrup's first test of the kids revealed they weren't colorblind at all. Asked how many white people are mean, these children commonly answered, "Almost none." Asked how many blacks are mean, many answered, "Some," or "A lot." Even kids who attended diverse schools answered the questions this way.
More disturbing, Vittrup also asked all the kids a very blunt question: "Do your parents like black people?" Fourteen percent said outright, "No, my parents don't like black people"; 38 percent of the kids answered, "I don't know." In this supposed race-free vacuum being created by parents, kids were left to improvise their own conclusions—many of which would be abhorrent to their parents.
Others think it's better to say nothing at all about the president's race or ethnicity—because saying something about it unavoidably teaches a child a racial construct. They worry that even a positive statement ("It's wonderful that a black person can be president") still encourages a child to see divisions within society. For the early formative years, at least, they believe we should let children know a time when skin color does not matter.
As the article states, parents, teachers, and society as a whole should be talking about race. And not with such namby-pamby clichés as "We're all the same." The article demonstrates how a child reacts to such vague generalities:
And let's not waste time with worthless comments such as "It's just a movie." Reread the anecdote about the black Santa if you think children can distinguish between fiction and reality. Again, they understand what ignorant adults don't: that stories encode and transmit our cultural values.
For more on the subject, see Obama Proves Racism Exists and Highlights of the US Report to the UN on Racism.
Below: A typical media product sends a typical message about whites and Indians.