006: Wait, is my toddler racist?

I’d always assumed that if I didn’t mention race to my daughter, if it was just a non-issue, that she wouldn’t grow up to be racist.  Boy, was I wrong about that.  It turns out that our brains are wired to make generalizations about people, and race is a pretty obviously noticeable way of categorizing people.  If your child is older than three, try tearing a few pictures of white people and a few more of black people out of a magazine and ask him to group them any way he likes.  Based on the research, I’d put money on him sorting the pictures by race.

So what have we learned about reversing racism once it has already developed?  How can we prevent our children from becoming racist in the first place?  And where do they learn these things anyway? (Surprise: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”)

References

Aboud, F.E. (2003). The formation of in-group favoritism and out-group prejudice in children: Are they distinct attitudes? Developmental Psychology 39(1), 48-60.

Bigler, R. (1999). The user of multicultural curricula and materials to counter racism in children. Journal of Social Issues 55(4), 687-705.

Castelli, L., Zogmaister, C., & Tomelleri, S. (2009). The transmission of racial attitudes within the family. Developmental Psychology 45(2), 586-591.

Faber, J. (2006). “Kramer” apologizes, says he’s not racist. CBS News. Retrieved from: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kramer-apologizes-says-hes-not-racist/

Frontline (1985). A class divided. Available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/class-divided/

Hebl, M.R., Foster, J.B., Mannix, L.M., & Fovidio, J.F. (2002). Formal and interpersonal discrimination: A field study of bias toward homosexual applicants. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 28(6), 815-825. Full article available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mikki_Hebl/publication/252443069_Formal_and_Interpersonal_Discrimination_A_Field_Study_of_Bias_Toward_Homosexual_Applicants/links/55a760f108ae410caa752c8c.pdf

Hebl, M.R., & Mannix, L.M. (2003). The weight of obesity in evaluating others: A mere proximity effect. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 29(1), 28-38. Full article available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mikki_Hebl/publication/8436667_The_Weight_of_Obesity_in_Evaluating_Others_A_Mere_Proximity_Effect/links/55a760fb08aeb4e8e646e81f.pdf

Hebl, M.R., & Xu, J. (2001). Weighing the care: Physicians’ reactions to the size of a patient. International Journal of Obesity 25, 1246-1252.

Pahlke, E., Bigler, R.S., & Suizzo, M.A. (2012). Relations between colorblind socialization and children’s racial bias: Evidence from European American mothers and their preschool children. Child Development 83(4), 1164-1179. Full article available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224853709_Relations_Between_Colorblind_Socialization_and_Children%27s_Racial_Bias_Evidence_From_European_American_Mothers_and_Their_Preschool_Children

Piaget, J. (1950). The child’s conception of the world. New York: Humanities Press.

Piaget, J. (1970). Piaget’s theory. In P.H. Mussen (ed.), Carmichael’s manual of child psychology (p.703-732). New York: Wiley.

Priest, N., Walton, J., White, F., Kowal, E., Baker, A., & Parides, Y. (2014). Understanding the complexities of ethnic-racial socialization processes for both minority and majority groups: A 30-year systematic review. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 43, 139-155.

TMZ (2012). Michael Richards spews racist hate. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoLPLsQbdt0

Vedantam, S. (2010). The hidden brain. New York: Spiegel and Grau.

von Hippel, W., Silver, L.A., & Lynch, M.E. (2000). Stereotyping against your will: The role of inhibitory ability in stereotyping and prejudice among the elderly. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 26(5), 523-532. Full article available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/William_Von_Hippel/publication/255604292_Stereotyping_Against_Your_Will_The_Role_of_Inhibitory_Ability_in_Stereotyping_and_Prejudice_among_the_Elderly/links/5475035a0cf245eb43707162.pdf

Weber, S., & Meilan, I. (2015). Michael Richards: My racist outburst during 2006 stand-up gig was a “reality check.” Us Magazine. Retrieved from: http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/michael-richards-my-racist-outburst-in-2006-was-a-reality-check-20152310

Weiner, M.J., & Wright, F.E. (1973). Effects of undergoing arbitrary discrimination upon subsequent attitudes toward a minority group. Journal of Applied Psychology 3(1), 94-102.

Share:

Leave a Comment