By Felicity LuHill
March 28, 2017
I was recently introduced to a study CNN did on children’s perception of race, “A Look at Race Relations Through a Child’s Eyes:”
Though it’s important to note that this study was done in 2012, I believe the conclusions of this study are still pertinent to today.
On the one hand, the video shows how children are much more prone to racial bias than we may have previously thought. It’s easy to be defeatist about this information: kids will attain “implicit bias” because it lives all around them. Indeed, many of the comments of this video have this kind of attitude.
However, the study also shows how children can be raised to think inclusively about race. From this, I think we can learn and move forward in a way that will help children be deterred from these kinds of biases.
Here’s what I took away from this study:
- Everything that you do in relation to race influences the children around you. At Barbershop Books, we say that reading in front of kids is important because kids will internalize this behavior. This is also true when it comes to race. Dr. Melanie Killen points out that something as small as the choice of who to ask for help can impact the way a child thinks about race.
- Talk to your kids about race. There’s no going around the subject. Dr. Melanie Killen notes at the end of this video that children are aware of race very early on. For this reason, you should be able to open up a free and ongoing discussion about the topic.
- The media is a powerful influence. Everything a child consumes in the media (books, television, internet) is shaping the way he thinks about the world. In order to promote a more inclusive way of thinking, you have to be sure the child is taking in media pertaining to a wide and expansive set of people in a variety of situations. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: diverse books are so, so, so important!
At Barbershop Books, our mission is not to solve the world’s issues of illiteracy, but to help young African American boys identify as readers. There is an important distinction here. Illiteracy is a side effect of children being uncomfortable thinking of themselves as “readers.” Just as racism is a side effect of children being uncomfortable with inclusive social interactions/media. We’re not trying to treat the symptom, we’re trying to treat the cause. Each and every one of us has the power to shape the attitudes of young minds. Acknowledging and exercising this power wisely is what’s key.
SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.