posts 1 - 15 of 29
Boston, US
Posts: 205

Due: Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 8:00 am (sections 01 and 04)

Wednesday, November 18 at 8:00 am (sections 02 and 03)

Reading: Kenneth and Mamie Clark, "Racial Identification and Preference in Negro Children," 1950 (You will need to download this)

As we saw with the children in Anderson Cooper’s piece for CNN on skin color preferences [see below for the links, in case you missed class], when asked to judge what skin color young children preferred, the general sense was that they preferred lighter skin to darker skin. The question of whether adults preferred a particular skin color again, according to the children interviewed, seemed to be that, “Yes, they do. They prefer the lighter skin colored people.”

Now granted, Cooper’s study was not scientific and therefore could easily be questioned, but it is the recreation of an study done by Kenneth and Mamie Clark in 1940-1941, a study that was at the core of the arguments made in favor of the plaintiff in the landmark Brown v Board of Education case that led to desegregation of the nation’s public schools after the Supreme Court ruled in 1954. A summary of that study by the Clarks in the link as the reading above.

You read Paul Bloom’s “Moral Life of Babies” for class on Thursday/Friday. No doubt that gave you some insight into what we are born with vs. what we learn. But how do we explain how those children responded in the Anderson Cooper 2010 recreation of the Kenneth + Mamie Clark 1940-1941 research? After all, as Cooper remarks, he is conducting this two years after the United States elected its first mixed race president!

And you all took the Implicit Association Test (IAT). Irrespective of which test you took, you received some kind of score by the end. What did the test reveal?

In other words—and here’s two big questions for you to ponder:

(1)Where/how do children learn to discriminate? Is it innate? Is it learned? Is it a combination of the two? And whether it’s innate, learned, or both, can it be undone? When you reflect on this, give some concrete examples or anecdotes, if they support your views.

(2)And, while you are not young children, you are closer to your childhood than your old age! What did the IAT results tell you? Do you think they are a good way to assess the associations you make (aka—your unconscious bias)? Tell us why you find this a valuable exercise—or not—and why.

For any of you who either missed class or want to re-view the clips we watched:

Anderson Cooper/CNN recreation of the doll study:

Part 1: [5:27]

Part 2: [5:18]

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 24

The Doll Study and Learned Bias

Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s Doll Study exposed the racial divide amongst children and how biases are formed in the early years of development. Young white children associated positive traits with white colored dolls and negative traits with the darker complexion dolls. Young black children were seen to be biased against their own skin color and have a preference to the white dolls. Children can’t be blamed for the harsh realities this study exposed because their opinions and viewpoints are shaped by their environment; kids don’t simply come out of the womb with racial preference. The environment a child lives in, is composed of different aspects that all have a significant impact, these being the media, public perception, and opinions of one's family. When white children grow up in a bubble of their own skin color and hear negative traits or references to people of color, they adopt this perception as their own until they are old enough to come to their own opinion. The same can be said for black children, if they are exposed to an environment that correlates their skin color as being negative they will internalize this at a young age. The idea of black children preferring lighter skin dolls and associating their skin as “bad”, “ugly’ or “dirty” is deeply rooted in colorism, an issue impacting many communities of color. Media also has a role because if all the cartoons and movies that young children watch, display only white children and characters, and show little to no people of darker complexions, children won’t see every race as being equal. Racial stereotypes in the media also contribute to this idea because often black characters are only side-characters with almost no personal development and don’t play a greater role in the story. Racial biases can be undone, despite how prevalent they may be in kids, because if they are taught from kindergarten that no skin color is superior and that all skin is beautiful they will not become so hardened in their opinion.

The IAT results that I received were expected, especially considering that I had taken the test previously. Growing up in a multicultural environment, I was taught from a young age that skin color differs and has no correlation to the quality of a person. I also attended school in this type of environment, so racial biases never really had the opportunity to form within me. I think the test was an okay representation of how people can be biased because the fast nature of the test and necessary response times gave little chance for people to think about their answer, so natural instinct had to kick in. The real perception of the test taker was exposed because there was no way to pretend to be unbiased if you truly were since it gauged response time to the percent of correct answers.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Is Discrimination Innate or Learned?

Anderson Cooper’s research gathered similar results to Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s investigation, even though it was almost 70 years after the initial research. After the initial study, schools were segregated in an attempt to resolve some of the problems, but Cooper’s research proves that not much has changed. The research shows that young children are already exposed and conditioned to the bias of skin tones and race. Those biases would remain with them even as they grow older.

From a young age, children observe their surroundings and take in the views of those around them. Discrimination is not innate, but since we are conditioned to discriminate almost from the moment we are born, it seems natural. How one is raised is a large determining factor in their views and biases towards skin color. Children often copy what they see others do, so they will act based on the behaviors of those around them.

Society as a whole often prefers a lighter skin tone and judges it positively, and since kids experience and see these all the time, their own preference naturally tilts towards those of society. There is a large representation of lighter skin tones in the media, which often leads kids to believe that lighter skin tones are beautiful. An example of this can be seen in many East Asian countries, where skin lightening beauty products are heavily advertised.

This is evident in the research when kids, both white and black, often associate the positive characteristics with lighter skin tones. At the same time, the negative aspects get associated with darker skin tones. Some of the older kids are inclusive and choose everyone as an answer, but it’s far from what the majority believes if even it is the case.

The IAT results shocked me a little as they were different then what I initially thought. There are negative assumptions about people of darker skin tones and views that lighter skin tones are desirable in my family. Throughout the years, I have learned that skin tones do not show how a person is, and within my family, there are less negative perceptions of darker color. I feel like this was a messy test because the controls can get confusing after the switch. It becomes easier to mess up the answers, and it might not be able to come up with a result. The IAT can test each person's unconscious bias when there is no time to adjust to change in which controls are which once that section begins.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

Have We Actually Made Progress Since 1941?

Anderson Cooper's 2010 experiment showed very similar results to Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s 1940-1941 study. The results of Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s study played a key role in the Brown v Board of Education case, which later led to the desegregation of public schools in 1954. While many people believe that discrimination is not a major issue in our nation still, the similarity between the results of the two studies proves that the issues of the past remain prevalent today.

The Anderson Cooper study involved asking children to judge what skin color most other children preferred, what skin color most adults preferred, and other questions such as “Who is the mean/dumb/smart child?” with a row of children or boxes with different tones. In general, darker skin tones were associated with negative things and lighter skin tones were associated with positive ones.

This discrimination is learned. Children are very malleable. They are easily influenced by the beliefs of those around them. They believe that adults prefer lighter skin tones, so they usually prefer lighter skin tones.

I think that the discriminating mindset can be undone. As children grow, they are able to shape their own idea and they are not as easily influenced by the people surrounding them. I also think that there could be lingering unconscious bias. When something is learned at such a young age and a child is surrounded by those certain beliefs constantly, it would not be surprising that they are still biased and are completely unaware of it.

I was not really sure what to expect with my IAT results. For most of my life I lived in a community with little to no diversity. I was not taught about different cultures. My family also took no steps to educate me. If anything, I feel like their beliefs would have caused me to have an unconscious bias. Recently, I have been exposed to more cultures. My community is still not very diverse, but it is more than before. I think that racial biases had an opportunity to form within me when I was younger, but I was never really easily influenced and I’ve been able to think for myself and have my own beliefs.

I also think that the IAT test had the right idea, but it could have been clearer and less confusing. I think some people might have different results than what they expected because of the messy design of the test.

Boston, Massachusettes, US
Posts: 16

The Evolution of Discrimination

I think that there is an order to how much a child tends to discriminate throughout their childhood. Obviously, a lot of people's conclusions that they come to are based on how they are raised and what sort of media they are exposed to, but I think that it typically evolves like this: Everyone is born without discrimination. Sure, an infant may have a preference towards their parents, but until someone is old enough to understand the difference between people and the dangers some people can pose, I believe that their innate discrimination is both learned and developed. I think that everyone has an innate tendency to discriminate, but that discrimination is learned from what you are exposed to, such as movies, books, and pictures, as well as parental impact, such as the discrimination your parents have. However, as a person becomes more mature and learns more about others, even though someone's automatic discrimination may not change, their perception and consciousness of that discrimination changes. They will come to understand the consequences of discrimination and consciously make the decision to not let discrimination affect their choices. This is shown when the older children make less racist choices, because they have developed the consciousness that this choice is a dangerous mindset.

I think that the IAT can work for some people, but in general, I think their are too many unknown factors to say someone has implicit bias based on their reaction time. For example, putting the negative words with the black faces after the negative words with the white faces may change the results. As for me, I got a lot more wrong on the second part than the first because I already had the matches in my mind. But I also was faster on the second part. Maybe it's because I do have implicit bias, but I think a more likely result is that I got more used to the controls over time. Each round, I got faster, so it would make sense that I got it wrong but answered quicker on the sencond round.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

Our Hidden Biases

Despite Anderson Cooper’s 2010 recreation of the Clark Doll Study taking place 2 years after Obama’s election, the results were strikingly similar to the research from 1940. It’s shocking to see how although we might think our society has greatly progressed in terms of racism and racial identity, we still have much to work on. Even at the mere age of 5 years old, children are already becoming accustomed to their own implicit biases as shown in their choices in both studies where they attributed positive traits to lighter skin tones.

Judging from these studies, I’d say that discrimination is learned. Children are not automatically born with racial biases but rather form them as a result of their family and surrounding environment. For instance, many kids grew up watching Disney movies and a variety of television shows on Nickelodeon. As we discussed in class, there is a lack of diversity within the Disney princesses. Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White, the list of Caucasian princesses goes on and on. Their overrepresentation within the media is consistently teaching kids that light skin is the epitome of beauty. Going back to the dolls as well, it wasn’t until 1980 that the first Black Barbie made her debut. Most of the Barbies on the shelf were white, skinny, and with blue eyes and they were seen as the most beautiful dolls in existence. On the other hand, there are often negative stereotypes associated with darker skin tones, such as dirty or hideous, that are present in kids television shows. Such standards like that can clearly show how discrimination can be learned by children at a young age as they are highly susceptible to what the media portrays as beautiful. Family values also affect the learning of discrimination as well. If a child, who can be highly influenced by their environment at a young age, is taught by their parents certain biases pertaining to race, they are sure to hold onto those opinions as they aren’t always exposed to other views.

In response to @20469154661, I also agree that there could be a lingering unconscious bias. As a result, I don’t think discrimination can be entirely undone. Sure, kids can grow up to become more educated and shape their own opinions surrounding the beauty standard and stereotypes, but they cannot remove their hidden implicit biases. We also learn to filter our honest thoughts more as we grow up as well. Thus, our discrimination can certainly be improved as we will become more exposed to others' views and thoughts, but that won’t remove our true unconscious stances.

My IAT results were slightly expected but I was still a little surprised to say the least. I’ve lived in predominantly Asian and White neighborhoods all my life and my Chinese family had pretty discriminatory views surrounding those with darker skin tones. As a result, I think I’ve developed an unconscious bias that was shown during the test, despite how much my views have changed now. I was much more impressionable at a younger age which is why I think it’s entirely impossible to remove one’s unconscious bias. Finally, I’d say that the test was a good starting point assessing the associations I make, as it tested how much we connected positive and negative traits with white and black people. However, it could be improved because many of us got confused at the switches and the directions weren’t always clear, but it was a valuable exercise because it started to uncover what we’ve grown to filter.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

Discrimination Among Children

I think that both Anderson Cooper’s piece for CNN and Kenneth and Mamie Klark’s study show a clear racial divide in the way that children think. Although this is a clear problem, the children can’t be blamed for it. As it mentioned in “The Moral Life of Babies”, studies found that babies are in fact born with some set of morals, whether they understand them or not. In these studies babies choose certain things over the other based on how “nice” or “helpful” they were, but outside of those studies they still have this very basic sense of right and wrong. It is what they are taught and exposed to from a young age that changes that sense or applies it to something where it doesn’t truly belong. Being exposed from such a young age, this bias is so ingrained into the way that we think that it is almost normalized. Kids grow up and will see shows on TV with their favorite princess or superheroes and when they are overwhelmingly white, that creates a false sense of reality. When children of color aren’t shown people that look like them in a positive light, they won’t think of themselves that way and as we can tell that is very harmful. We aren’t taught until much later in life to question what we really think unconsciously.

I think that the IAT results were very telling. I wasn’t so sure what my results would be before I took it but I wasn’t very surprised to see that I had a small implicit bias because of the neighborhood I grew up in, the majority of the people I was regularly surrounded by, and people I saw on TV all being white. The test was a bit flawed, I think that some mistakes could have been because of the order of the test or a number of other factors but I think for the most part it shows your unconscious thoughts. I also do think that it was valuable to know that I have this implicit bias so that I can work to stray away from that and unlearn what has been ingrained in society.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Humans Are Products Of Our Environments

Watching these videos and reading these articles was sadly unsurprising. I remember when I first watched the videos by Anderson Cooper, maybe three years ago in a class. Even back then it saddened me, but didn’t shock me. Sadly, the world we live in makes it so that it’s just expected of even young kids being biased and discriminatory.

I think that children learn to discriminate from the environment around them. In the article, Bloom says “Henrich and his colleagues concluded that much of the morality that humans possess is a consequence of the culture in which they are raised, not their innate capacities.” I agree with this, I do not think that discrimination is innate. I think that the way you grow up and who you grow up around is the main influence. Like Bloom said in the article, we are biased towards our “own kind”. This in itself is a product of our environment. Sometimes a child’s own race doesn’t even affect their bias. A child who is black and grows up and is surrounded by white people will have a preference for white people because that is all they have known.

Something else that I think affects discrimination and the awareness of it, is ones own identity. People who are very privileged and have never been discriminated against probably don’t pay much attention to these inequities. However, less privileged individuals have to live that life everyday, therefore it is so relevant to them. This was shown in the doll study where, “... Would seem to indicate that the dark group is slightly more definite in its knowledge of racial differences.” This makes sense because the dark group has no choice but to have knowledge of racial differences, because they experience this discrimination the most. I find this really interesting, and I think it says a lot about privilege.

I do think that discrimination and internal biases can be undone to a certain extent. Everyone has biases despite how “woke” or educated they are, it is just human nature. However, I do think that someone who grew up in an extremely racist household has the potential to not keep those same thoughts. As a kid it is hard to stray from teachings that come from your parents or environment, but as you grow older it is easier to develop your own opinions and differentiate between right and wrong. I think that school helps with this as well, because being educated helps to form your own ideas and thoughts.

I found the IAT results very interesting. I took it four years ago and I actually got different results this time. Back then I was in a non diverse environment, I went to school with no white students, and my results were having a slight preference for darker skinned people over lighter skinned people. Now, being in BLS where the majority of students are white and asian, of course my environment has changed a lot. This time on the test I got no preference. I find it funny how it changed over the course of three years just because of my environment.

I think that this is kind of a good way to assess unconscious bias. I think that the results should be taken with a grain of salt. I think that sometimes it can be inaccurate because people are so stressed about not wanting to get certain results that they may mess up. Otherwise, it gives a pretty good sense. It was a good exercise because it brought to light for many people the fact that we do have internalized biases whether we know it or not.

Posts: 18

Societal Views

Anderson Cooper recreation in 2010 on the Kenneth and Mamie Clark 1940-1941 research uncovered the perceptions that young children associate with different skin tones. We saw that both black and white young children generally prefer drawings/dolls that had white characteristics and associated black characteristics as negative.

I think that the discrimination that children have are both innate and learned. Both circumstances revolve around the environment they grow up in. Their discrimination is innate because young children generally question everything that don’t look familiar to them. They then could say some very discriminating things without the actual purpose behind discrimination. This then leads to where discrimination is learned. When children question such things, they usually ask parents and close relatives. If their parents answer their questions that favor light skin, children will think that that is the correct way to view skin tone. Another case where it is learned is the media. In movies, it has usually been white actors who play the main character. Even in adaptations like The Last Airbender, it castes a white dude in a non-white role. Children watch these movies and see those who have light skin as the main character, the character who they root for. The discrimination that these young children have can definitely be undone in the future. As children grow up, many will eventually go through many experiences that go against their views. They can develop relationships with people of all skin tones and see that their prior views are wrong.

The IAT results told me that I should not trust it. This is not a good way to assess the associations I make because it requires good sleep in order to get an accurate result. It requires us to focus too much and it also changes the controls of the test. They also change when the positive and negative words pop up. When I see a white face and it puts a positive word after that, I would quickly press the positive key after I see the next white face, only to see a negative word. It does this for both white and black faces, which disrupts accurate results. However, that’s just my opinion and I do think that it would be a beneficial exercise for other people, especially for those who learn and adapt quickly.

Boston , MA, US
Posts: 17

Children's Environment and How it Affects Their Perception of Skin Color and Race

I think maybe discrimination in general is innate because as infants, we learn to recognize differences in things like color and size. Paul Bloom writes “Babies possess certain moral foundations — the capacity and willingness to judge the actions of others, some sense of justice, gut responses to altruism and nastiness.” Babies already are judging things from a young age, but I think the way in which they discriminate is learned. For example a baby might learn because of its environment, to discriminate based on skin color and that one color was superior or inferior to another. Bloom also writes that babies tend to be biased towards people they are similar to: “There’s plenty of research showing that babies have within-group preferences: 3-month-olds prefer the faces of the race that is most familiar to them to those of other races”, and he gave many more examples. The definition of discriminating is both differentiating and making unjust or prejudicial distinctions in terms of treatment. I think everyone learns certain biases, whether they be unconscious or not, and it is hard to unlearn these but certainly people should prevent them from influencing their actions and thoughts.

I took both the skin color and race tests, but I think the test may have some faults because when they switch the alignments halfway, your mind is more used to the original settings and will probably be slower and less accurate with the new ones. It would be interesting to see if the order of the exercises was switched, where first you align black or darker skin with good and white or lighter skin with bad, then would the preferences change more to black or darker skin since it was the first set of settings. I think the idea for the IAT test is a good idea and the speed variable makes sense, but it is not a “fair test” or an accurately controlled experiment because naturally if you get used to doing something, and then have to change, you will be slower and less accurate at the new changes.

When I was little I was very self conscious of the slightly darker skin I had for my ethnicity. I don’t know why I disliked my skin color so much when I was younger, but there were instances when I was older of people telling me my skin was “too dark” (for my ethnicity). I explicitly remember an adult telling me my skin color “wasn’t pretty in (the country of my heritage )”. I wanted to always wear sunscreen in the summer so I wouldn’t get tanner. I agree with how @JGV described children’s environment and how it impacts their perspective on skin color, especially the media and public perception. I don’t think my dislike for my skin color was innate, but in fact learned because I was living in an environment where people of my ethnicity had lighter skin, and it shows how colorism is definitely a big problem in many places.

For the doll study, I found it interesting that it concludes that “the crucial period in the formation and patterning of racial attitudes begins at around four and five years. At these ages these subjects appear to be reacting more uncritically in a definite structuring of attitudes which conforms with the accepted racial values and mores in the larger environment.” This means that the results showed patterning of racial preferences began at ages 4-5, when the children developed a preference for lighter skin. I think it’s really sad that kids of such a young age learn so early to dislike their own skin color.

Boston, Massachuesetts, US
Posts: 19

Can it be Undone?

The recreation of the study done by Kenneth and Mamie Clark in 1940-1941, done by CNN in 2010 about skin tones and the biases children have about them, was very interesting because you wouldn't expect young children to have a bias about something like that, at their stage of development. However, they did, young children told the study overseer that light skin toned babies were more liked by adults and were nicer, and dark skin toned babies were ugly, mean and disliked adults. The question at hand is, where did they learn this? Were they born with these biases over skin tone, or was it taught to them? Personally, I find it hard to believe that humans are just born with this internalized bias over race, it is more probable to me that it is learned from environment and family alike. Whether it is intentional or not is not the question, but question or not it is unanswerable. Can it be proven that families are intentionally raising their children to be biased against other skin tones? Are children absorbing this bias from the world around them- such as television, media, people around them? I firmly in change, and the ability for change to occur, so if you ask me if implicit bias can be undone- I would say that it could be undone. It will be very difficult, as it is very deep rooted in every aspect of society. It is not a simple question of undoing the existing bias- but also preventing it from every stemming and growing back. In order to do this there is huge change that needs to occur, many aspects of our everyday lives must change, and I am all for that change. I just can't picture it at this moment.

My IAT results surprised me, but I don't believe I necessarily align with what they told me. I disagree with the idea that it uncovers unconscious biases, because personally I struggled with the format, I was getting questions wrong like saying the word "Pleasant" was a bad thing, and constantly mixing up which side goes where, as not only was it my first time taking tests like this, I simply forgot the format or messed it up. I don't think it was me saying that one race was bad or mixing up the idea that it can be percieved as good, and the test was really frustrating. I found it frustrating honestly to take the test, it hurt my head. I could see the tunnel vision forming, and my head hurt while taking it. I believe that it is a valuable exercise I guess, if you aren't a mess like myself.

West Roxbury, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19


As children grow up, they come across racism that is purely thrown at them directly and indirectly. This leads me to saying that children aren't naturally born to discriminate as they just learn to discriminate on their own whether they learn from their parents or bullies at school who make fun of them. To add on, as young children may learn to discriminate at a young age, I believe that it is impossible to be undone. This is because all people naturally discriminate consciously or subconsciously whether it's from picking out a meal at a restaurant or deciding between preference over a black and a white person. However, I feel that people become more aware of the discrimination as they grow up and try to prevent it from happening, but I believe that the person will naturally discriminate anyway.

As for the IAT results, for me it was shockingly not equally biased as it said that I had a bias for lighter toned people. However, as bad as that may sound in today's society, I am an adopted Korean who was placed into a white family and lives in a white neighborhood. Even though I didn't realize it at first, I can confirm the white bias as true as I never grew up with as many darker toned people as I have lighter. Going back to the IAT results, I believe that it was a truth hurts moment because the test was actually good at looking at my unconscious bias as I normally believe or try to believe that I have no preference, but even though this test revealed my unconscious bias, you shouldn't allow the test to dictate change in your beliefs as it is only a digital test. To conclude, this wasn't much of a valuable exercise to me because it only told me my bias that was forced upon me when I grew up in West Roxbury, and the test was poorly designed because you had to tell if the given face was black or white. If you messed up that could play with your final results as well.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

Children and Their Environments

Children learn how to discriminate from the environment they grow up in. They learn from their parents, tv shows, teachers, friends, toys, family members and more. Children are brutally honest and pick up on everything. I believe that it can only be learned because you learn how to discriminate from your environment. When I was growing up, I always admired the disney princesses because they were blonde, white, short and very skinny. I thought that those Disney princesses were the most beautiful girls in the world and I wanted to be like them because they were so beautiful. I also always played with dolls when I was younger such as Barbie and American Girl Dolls that were all white, blonde and skinny. I always thought that this was the ideal image and body type. I also thought it was interesting that I had looked like these girls while lots of my friends didn’t. These shows and dolls imply that you must be white, blonde, and skinny to be beautiful because it is all that is represented and it is what you grew up around, it's the environment as a child that built your understanding. Society had built this image for me as a child that in order to be considered beautiful I had to be skinny and this still affects me today.

After watching the videos of the Doll Experiment, I was so upset by the children's responses because it shows how their environment shapes their views especially when they are young and unable to form their own opinions. Since children are brutally honest, they gave the answers they were thinking instead of worrying about what they were saying was discriminating because they do not understand that yet. It is very eye opening to see how their environments truly affect them and how either their parents, family members or friends influence them and also how they are influenced by tv shows/characters/toys. It was so upsetting to see the white children pick the black children to be the “ugly” or “dumb” children, and especially when they said the black child was the child that “most adults would not like”. It is a wake up call to myself and society that we must do better about stereotypes and the norms of society with race, beauty, and gender.

My IAT results told me that I did not have a preference between Europeans and African Americans. I do not think there is a test to test your unconscious biases because you do not even know they are there and it is very hard to identify them because they impact all your choices. I am not sure if I found these exercises valuable because I only took one test, and while you are taking the test you are so focused on answering the questions right and you focus only on making sure you do not discriminate. I do not think that using a test is an accurate way to test unconscious biases because we are so unsure about how they affect us until someone tells us and I do not think a test is the correct way for us to determine them. Some parts of the test were not as bad such as when you had to match good and bad words to the faces of European and African American people, I thought it was very interesting. The questions were not effective because you are so focused on ensuring that you are not racist/discriminating rather than answering them honestly.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

Change Is Possible

The ability to distinguish differences between groups of people is innate, but the way in which this ability, fueled by hatred, is used to segregate people based on racial characteristics, is learned. Babies are born unbiased and unconscious to the world in which they are brought into. Unaware of social constructions and values, they are expected to learn how to exhibit moral qualities from their parents. It is believed that babies are actually born with an innate moral sense that ranges from making judgements on the actions of others, to the freedom to control their own actions. In this case, some qualities of humans are innate, but the ability to discriminate against people on the basis of skin color, is something that is taught by the environment in which one is raised.

Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s Doll study in 1940-1941, provides a glimpse into the perspectives and consciousness of racial identification and preference in black children. The subjects ages 3 to 7 were presented white and black dolls and asked a series of questions that revolved around which one they preferred and which one they identified with. The results of this study showed that black children often chose the doll with a lighter complexion over the darker complexion even if they identified more with the latter. There was a pattern in associating the white dolls with positive statements and the black dolls with negative statements—a clear product of societal values. In 2010, Anderson Cooper’s informal recreation of this study was conducted 2 years after Obama’s election, but garnered similar results as the Doll study in 1940. Even after a whole 8 decades, progress has been limited and racism is still a rampant issue in the nation. What these children in the studies displayed were the influences from the media, their own parents, and the schools they attended. No one is born racist, but when you’re raised in a culture that dehumanizes a certain race, you start to believe in what you see. It was disheartening to see the black children choose the lighter skin color over their own.

Although it is often difficult to stray away from values you’ve always known to be true, it is not completely impossible. In other words, racism that is learned can ultimately be undone if the individual dedicates time to educating themselves and adapting to a growth mindset. Everybody carries their own prejudices and experiences, but listening to other perspectives will allow for a deeper understanding of the other side. People who don’t have to worry about their race, will never understand how race factors in to any other aspect of living.

This was my second time taking the IAT and my results were more unexpected than my first. I do not think the test is an accurate measure of someone’s implicit biases, but it does bring more awareness to the issue. It’s a good idea but I don’t think it is a certified way to assess the associations one makes. The instructions are a bit overwhelming and the results could simply come down to reaction time rather than personal biases. If the second half was presented to me first, I’m sure my results would have differed. However I do think this exercise gives me a bit of insight on the unconscious biases I may carry. I grew up in a conservative household with ignorant views that ultimately influenced my own. Be that as it may, I actively try to counter any unconscious biases I may hold once aware of my own prejudices. If it was possible for me to oppose the ideologies I grew up with, I believe that it is also possible for others with ignorant views to change their ways.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

Discrimination by children

The CNN video showed a horrifying insight into how deeply ingrained racism is in society today. Young children frequently associated negative words like “mean” with darker skin colors and they connected positive words like “kind” with whiter skin tones. It is scary to see how young children are when they begin to form racist and biased ideas. This video reinvestigated the Kenneth and Mamie Clark doll study. This study investigated how children felt about race. The CNN video confirmed the study and proved that children already draw conclusions about people of different races by the time they are only a few years old. Children see how their parents react to the world around them and how they interact with people of other races. They copy and imitate what adults do in order to see how to act.

Society generally promotes a light skin color as better and thinks of it as better than dark skin colors. Children see how often white people are represented in movies and they think that those people are the best people around. This instills the idea that each race has its own characteristics. That isn’t true and makes children believe in stereotypes and racist beliefs. Discrimination is learned and it is learned very early in life. I think it is possible to minimize discrimination but not get rid of it. AS they grow up, people understand their biases and try to get rid of them. However, discrimination is human nature and I do not believe that it can be removed

The IAT test could be useful but it was deeply flawed. It was pretty confusing when the races switched sides. It was very messy and I kept trying to be faster but I still messed up more each round. The idea behind the test is good but I think the results would be interesting if the races started on the opposite side. However, there is still some value in the results but I wasn’t really that surprised. I was raised in a primarily white neighborhood and most of the kids at my elementary school were white. I understand that I have a bias and am working to fix it and become a better person.

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