1.19.2010

See Baby Discriminate



I was going to post this article from Newsweek on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but forgot.

I think it's quite good. Here are some interesting points:

"We all want our children to be unintimidated by differences and have the social skills necessary for a diverse world. The question is, do we make it worse, or do we make it better, by calling attention to race?"

"Children naturally try to categorize everything, and the attribute they rely on is that which is the most clearly visible. We might imagine we're creating color-blind environments for children, but differences in skn color or hair or weight are like differences in gender--they're plainly visible."

"The more diverse the school, the more the kids self-segregate by race and ethnicity within the school."

"The odds of a white high-schooler in America having a best friend of another race is only 8 percent. . . For blacks, the odds aren't much better: 85 percent of black kids' best friends are also black."

"Is it really so difficult to talk with children about race when they're very young? . . . parents are very comfortable talking to their children about gender, and they work very hard to counterprogram against boy-girl stereotypes. That ought to be our model for talking about race. The same way we remind our daughters, "Mommies can be doctors just like daddies," we ought to be telling all children that doctors can be any skin color. It's not complicated what to say. It's only a matter of how often we reinforce it."

"Shushing children when they make an improper remark is an instinctive reflex, but often the wrong move."

"Frequent predictions of future discrimination ironically become as destructive as experiences of actual discrimination."

2 comments:

The Ballard's said...

Interesting. Just for the record, I shush my kids when they ask things like why does that guy have a ponytail or look at that tattoo. The problem is not just how we react, but also how we are perceived. Interesting article.

emily ballard said...

Yes. . . but the point of the article was to encourage open discussion about race.

I don't think the author was making any judgement on the racial feelings of a parent who "shushes", other than it sends a message to their kids that they aren't supposed talk about things like that.

And, just for the record, not only have I shushed my kids, I have even laughed at their questions. (Probably not good either.) Like the time we went through the drive-thru at McDonald's and Lucy asked if the black boy who took our money was Derrick's cousin.