Tuesday, November 30, 2010


                                                                 (c) Rishi Menon 2008

"A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue."
Truman Capote

This blog began because I read a Newsweek article online. It was called, “See Baby Discriminate,” and can be found here. The article talked about how parents think their kids view racial differences and what they do (and don't do) to help their children address their questions. And then I started reading other research articles, and I realized that this isn’t an isolated issue or one I can ignore.
As the parent of a mixed-race child, the article made me even more conscious of the need to protect my daughter in some ways and educate her in others. I wanted to write about this issue because I realized that my friends, some of whom are white parents of white children, also need to be concerned about this topic.
The article gives many examples of race studies, including some conducted by Phyliss Katz, who, while a professor at the University of Colorado, followed 100 black children and 100 white children for their first 6 years. “When the kids turned 3, Katz showed them photographs of other children and asked them to choose whom they’d like to have as friends. Of the white children, 86 percent picked children of their own race…”
Katz went on to say that, “at no point in the study did the children exhibit the Rousseau type of color-blindness that many adults expect.” She emphasizes that we need to discuss race with our children while they are young and still forming their conclusions about race and differences.
My purpose in raising this issue to let every parent know they should talk to their children about race and be willing to ask and answer questions. That’s our job, as parents. Because even though I may do my best to give my daughter a healthy perspective on who she is, other children might not want to play with her, or they might not know how to interact with her in social situations, because of the color of her skin, only because other parents never talked about it. I want parents to know that it’s ok, and even important to bring up the subject and discuss it with their kids.
Research has shown that 75% of white parents never, or almost never, discuss race, yet children as young as 3 years old notice racial differences and compare themselves with other kids. They form ideas about what they see, and those ideas keep maturing as they get older. If we give our young children more knowledge about who they are and who their friends are, we give them tools to live in an accepting, loving world, and we can help break down some of the racial discrimination that infests our culture.
We all want our children to be comfortable with themselves and unintimidated by differences. We want them to have good social skills and an ability to interact with everyone. We want them to live in a peaceful world that is filled with love and acceptance.
 Let’s talk about race.

Bronson, Po and Merryman, Ashley “See Baby Discriminate” Newsweek. 04 September, 2009. 21 October, 2010. <http://www.newsweek.com/2009/09/04/see-baby-discriminate.html>

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