Discrimination is not innate; it is something that is learned. It has been impossible for anyone here to avoid growing up in a system of white supremacy, a system that devalues black people and other minorities. In both the older Kenneth and Mamie Clark study as well as Anderson Cooper’s, the white children are more likely to favor white dolls than the black children are to favor the black dolls. The white kids have already started growing up in a system where they feel favored, while the black kids have started growing up in the same system that makes them feel unvalued and less than.
It starts off with the parents -- if the parents do anything but teach their children against the system, then the child will likely take on the same attitude, maybe indifferent and at some points uninterested as to what goes on. And even if the parents of, say, a white kid teach their kid everything they know about how to actively work against this system, that white kid may still have a natural bias towards white people since those were the people who raised him/her and the people he/she was surrounded by as a child and perhaps looked up to. That last point applies to black children as well, but black children don’t have society backing them up.
Even then, if a child manages to have decent parents, they will still be influenced, sometimes to an equal degree, by their teachers at school or their friends. I suppose nobody is born racist or ready to discriminate, but the second they come out they must survive a childhood that will likely push them in a one particular direction, no matter who they are, until they can think for themselves and choose to eradicate whatever bias was planted in them as a child.
I think it’s definitely possible to undo discrimination, but like anything else it should start with the individual. If an individual comes out of their childhood realizing the things they might have picked up as a child, they should take advantage of that knowledge and be willing to undo and relearn some things -- I think since it’s hard to grow up without it, this is ultimately the most effective solution, and hopefully we’ll heal as generations pass. I’ve found that often an effective way to fix your own bias is by having conversations with people who are very unlike you and being one hundred percent willing to get uncomfortable.
One thing I found interesting from the original study was that “only at the seven year level do the same number of children indicate a preference for the skin color of the colored doll as for that of the white doll.” This reinforces the point that white children seem to be taught from everywhere that their skin is better, while black children seem to receive a mixed message, with society teaching them differently than some people like their parents may be trying to teach them. A generalization I could make from the study is that white people grow up more self-absorbed while black people have little confidence, and neither are to blame because they’re so young.
I’ve never taken this IAT test before, but I think my results a year ago would probably look different than they do now. I sort of feel like the world as I’m understanding it at the moment is telling me not to associate “white” with “good.” I think even just within our country so many things have happened this year that made me realize the system of white supremacy is the root of many problems. My results on this test surprised me slightly, but I did anticipate that they would lean in a certain direction, given everything I’ve been taking in nonstop in the past year.
Still, I feel like the test should be taken with a grain of salt, and I’m not sure it would change people’s views much. If people want to be more aware of their implicit bias, I don’t think their results to this test would be what would drive them to do so. I feel like the main problem with the test was that whichever set you got first, you might have done better on. For example if European and good were paired together first, you may have been quicker on that set than if they were paired together right after you had African American and good paired together. Nevertheless, I think there is some truth to the test results and it definitely has the capability of being valuable for some people.