posts 16 - 28 of 28
coral27
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

The Burden of Bias

I do not believe that anyone is born with a racial bias. But I do think that biases start earlier than many would think. For example, a while back, researchers conducted a study that found that 3-month-olds prefer faces of their own race, but not newborns (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2566511/#:~:text=Overall%20the%20results%20obtained%20in,%2D%20or%20other%2Dethnic%20groups, I don’t know how widely accepted this particular study was). To me, this suggests that babies and small children are constantly picking up on patterns, for example, if they spend most of their time in the company of members of their race (as many infants do), they may develop a preference.

However, this does not account for some of the saddest parts of the Cooper study, such as all the children who said that the darkest child was the dumb one, or the bad one, or the mean one. Additionally, in the Clark study, the white doll was generally favored by all the children, not just the white ones. So, somewhere along the line, white and black children alike are learning that whiter is prettier, smarter, kinder, better. But how?

As other posters (@alberic25, @PineappleMan30, @239bid0073) mentioned, family/the environment in which we grow up has a huge impact on us. Children are incredibly impressionable and pick up on things their parents don’t expect (or want) them to. So little comments that adults see as harmless can have a big impact on a child’s view of the world. @razzledazzle8 said, “if a parent said a certain race was bad then their 4 year old child would believe it because they have no other evidence to think differently and always would believe their parents before anyone else,” and while I agree with this, I think that realistically, what happens more often and leads to the deep, hidden, difficult-to-get-rid-of bias is a situation more like @alberic25 describes: “A parent doesn’t have to come out and straight up tell a child that a certain race is bad inorder to teach their children to discriminate. It can be subtle and simple acts that a parent might do that a child notices and copies.” Exactly. Biases show up in many ways, even if a parent doesn’t intend it. This, plus dismal representation in media, adds up to make even young children highly biased.

So, can it be undone? I don’t want to say that anything is impossible. As conscious adolescents and adults, we can make efforts to fight our own racial bias, but I think that it takes a lot of work. Mentally and on the surface, it is not too difficult to tell yourself that you believe in racial equality. It’s what is hiding under the surface that is the most difficult to get rid of, in my opinion. You can’t tell yourself, “Okay. Black and white people are equally good. Period. Done.” and automatically have no bias. It doesn’t work like that. This is why the study done on children was so effective and telling. Children do not have that layer; they will not filter out what they consider to be socially unacceptable. They will come right out and point to the child they think is the dumb one.

The solution is not colorblindness. It is not a lack of racial awareness. Black children tend to be burdened with racial awareness far earlier than their white counterparts, because they will be affected and endangered by racism. They are burdened with society’s views of them as dumb, ugly, mean, et cetera, to the point where many of the black children in the studies pointed to the darkest child as the dumb, ugly, or mean one. It is argued that (white, usually) children should not be taught about racism because they are too young for it and can’t handle it. Black children should be too young to be subjected to racism, but look at the world! (This is not to say that any adults are “old enough” to be subjected to racism. No one is.) So I say that an effective measure to start to work against implicit bias would be dialogues starting at home and continuing at school, as soon as children have the mental capacity to discuss. The earlier, the better, because young children are more likely to have honest, straightforward discussions.

Regarding the IAT, I think it is a flawed, unscientific test with some truth behind it. I was surprised by my results: I was actually told I was biased against white people. But I don’t think this is really true; I am not black and I know I have a level of implicit bias. I think the result may have been down to mind tricks and an expectation going into the test; wanting to “beat” it somehow. I think it could be improved by changing the description, the separate (not timed/required questions), and the way it set up the testing procedure. I do still think this is a valuable exercise because it makes us think about implicit bias and frames racism as a deeper issue than violently racist attacks or confrontations. Discomfort is valuable.

Dolphin42
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

Impact of the environment on racial bias

From the moment they’re born, children are under the influence of their environment. Parents’ and teachers’ unconscious behaviors can be a huge factor in the children’s perception of race and their perspective on the world around them. In a 2016 Yale study, the researchers had preschool teachers watch a video of four children: a white girl, a black girl, a white boy, and a black boy. The researchers told the teachers to look for challenging behaviors from the children and the researchers observe which child the preschool teachers were looking at the most. It turns out that the preschool teachers spend most of their time watching the black boy. (source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucEAcIMkS0c) This experiment shows that starting from preschool and at an even earlier age, children experience discrimination and bias around them. The black children might notice that their teachers are watching them more closely than others or that their teachers are more lenient when the white children make a mistake than they make the same mistake. As a result, the children might believe that they are at an advantage or a disadvantage due to their skin color when they did Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s experiment and when the children did Anderson Cooper’s experiment. So I definitely believe that discrimination is not innate, it is something children learn from the influence of their environment.

I think that discrimination can be undone or it becomes hidden within a person. When children first did the experiment, I believe that they don’t mean to harm anyone or are aware of what it means to prefer one skin type over another. As children are growing up, they learn what is right and wrong. Schools educate children about the impact of racism and where it stems from. Whether the child acknowledge their bias and tries to undo it or not, it entirely depends on what their environment is like.

For the IAT test, it said that I was slightly leaning towards white. I don’t think it is a good assessment of a person’s unconscious bias because like many of my classmates have mentioned, it depends on the person’s ability to type and their reflexes. Personally I don’t do well under pressure and I have the tendency to mistype. In terms of my result, I acknowledge that I'm a slightly biased person because I’m influenced by my surroundings. My relatives believe in a lot of stereotypes. Even though I get frustrated by their untrue claims and I try to correct them every time, these stereotypes have impacted my opinions unconsciously. I do wholeheartedly support equal rights for everyone no matter what their gender, race, sexual orientation, or what they define their identity as. And I think this is a valuable exercise because I learned a lot about our unconscious racial bias and how my environment has impacted my beliefs. It is very hard to change or become a better person without acknowledging the flaws and the subconscious bias that a person has.

Regina_Phalange
Boston, Massachussetts
Posts: 11

Recognizing Differences vs. Racial Bias

I believe that it is human nature to point out differences, As razzledazzle pointed out, children have the ability to notice patterns in their lives, so it is possible that they will prefer a race over another just because they associate that race with their own families whom they love. However, I don’t believe that racial bias is innate.

I think that children are like sponges, so they soak up a lot of the behaviors which are normalized in their surroundings. In my personal experience, I grew up with grandparents who are hispanic, and despite being afro-latinos actually believe that dark-skinned people are less worthy. Therefore, as a child, I idolized my mother for being lighter skinned. In addition, I grew up with dolls that were white when I was very young, so I thought that being white was beautiful. It wasn’t until my parents bought me darker skinned dolls that my perception changed. This is why I believe it’s so important to have accurate representation of all people to educate children and stop such racial bias. The social experiment on children’s racial bias resonated with me because of what I lived, so I don’t think that their bias comes out of nowhere.

I think that based on my experience, racial bias can definitely change because through becoming familiar with different cultures and becoming educated on that, it’s possible to recognize personal biases and work towards self improvement as well as educating others. However, there are implicit biases that people have because of their hard wiring, such as feeling more in danger when a black man is walking in the street at night than if that person was white. Those kinds of biases are ingrained in society because they are constantly enforced by mass incarceration, and even just the media.

I agree with coral27 that we must not neglect racial awareness. The fact is that black children face struggles from a young age such as shame, just because of societal racial biases that are forced on them. The fact that not only white children associated being dumb, or bad, or mean, with black children, goes to show how impactful non-inclusive toys, innacurate representation in the media as well as overal societal attitudes impact black lives.

I don’t believe that the IAT result was very accurate. My score showed that I am partially biased towards black people, but I think that knowing that it’s a racial bias test makes people think more about their choices so they can seem less biased. Also, I think that my brain gets things mixed up if I get into a pattern and then things are switched up. But I think this exercise has good intentions because everyone definitely has implicit bias.



._____________.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 4

Maybe I'm Just Racist Idk

I think the only way people can learn to discriminate is because of underexposure. With the kids in the survey with Anderson Cooper I imagine that they just don’t have enough experience with race. For example the question on which kid is prettiest because of their exposure to Barbie dolls they’ve figured out that white means beautiful and then from that they answered white is beautiful. Because they have been overexposed to white culture (in a sense) they just assume white is better. This is mostly because of white people being the majority in the US if you’re young you’ll probably be more exposed to white culture in comparison to black culture especially if you’re white yourself. I also believe racism is slightly innate, obviously I’m not saying everyone is born a racist but because kids see themselves almost always in a positive light so they would probably have at least have a small preference towards people of their own skin color. Also because Redlining, kids also tend to be in neighborhoods of kids of the same race also adding to the underexposure of other cultures.

Also turns out that I’m a closet racist, I had a strong preference towards white people. Honestly on one hand I probably shouldn’t have any preference towards a race but on the other hand as long as it doesn’t actually affect any of my decisions should I really care? I mean, lowkey how many decisions am I gonna make in a year that race will play a factor into, it’s not like I’m a cop or something. This might sound like I’m blowing the test off and saying it’s not important but to me it just won’t affect me in any way and maybe it’s just the way I am.

ThankYouFive
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 13

How Children Learn to Discriminate

I believe that children primarily learn to discriminate from their parents, because they see how their parents treat certain people differently just because of their skin color. For example, if a child was walking with their parent, and the parent suddenly took the child’s hand and crossed the street because a black person was walking by, that child could potentially start to associate black people with some form of perceived danger, especially if similar experiences happened over many years. People often say that children are foolish and don’t recognize that sort of reaction from their parents, but I personally think that children do in fact internalize the behaviors of the people in their community, and end up repeating those behaviors and believing similar ideas later on. While you could say that it is innate to start recognizing that something is dangerous based on the repeated reactions of your family, it is not innate to instantly discriminate against certain groups of people. For this reason, discrimination is not something that naturally happens, but rather something that is created by multiple instances of human interference.

The IAT results told me that I slightly favor European Americans over African Americans. I thought that the test was a very good way of helping me recognize my unconscious bias. While I knew the test, I kept on thinking to myself that the test wouldn’t work because I could understand exactly what it was measuring, and that if I concentrated hard enough I could have no bias at all. However, this ended up being false, and I found that even though I knew what my brain was doing, it was still happening despite me trying to fight it. For this reason, I found the entire exercise to be very helpful, because it demonstrated to me that implicit bias is something that is incredibly difficult to control, and everyone has some form of implicit bias, no matter who they are or what background they come from.

mcsd153
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

Learning, Unlearning, and Reflecting on Discrimination

I do not believe that we are born as discriminatory beings, and I definitely don't think hate is something programmed into the human brain. Discrimination (in my mind) is when you act on biases built on hate. Pretty much all of the discriminatory views we develop as we get older are dependent on the environment and household that we are raised in. Whether that be from our parents, siblings, childhood friends, or community. As young children we absorb everything around us. For example, almost every young person I know, including myself, has adopted their parents political views and biases, and forms the majority of opinions on that. Politics and race go hand in hand (although they shouldn't, it is a fact of American society), and many ideologies surrounding race, skin color politics, and class can be passed on from parent to child. Also, with the internet becoming so common around young kids, hearing the opinions of those all over the world, some hateful, can really narrow how one thinks.

For example, in the Anderson Cooper CNN study, we saw that many 5 year olds, when presented with the skin color chart, associated bad traits with dark tones and good traits with light skin tones. This wasn't even just white kids, it was young black children as well who has most likely grown up in an environment where they were taught to feel ashamed of who they are. While I am not saying that 5 year olds can't form opinions on their own, I don't think that they're capable of developing such complex, hateful thoughts without ever hearing it before. This is what leads be to think that discrimination is taught -not innate- because when those children were asked to justify their response, there was no real reason behind what they said what they said. I agree with 239bid0073 when they said that “Without knowing anything else or anything better at such a young age, the first thing we hear is imprinted, and almost a moral for our young minds. This doesn’t make it any more right and not concerning that the children said this. If anything it is way more concerning but, I think it gives reason. And the first step to solving problems is finding the reason to fix it.”

While discrimination can be engraved in minds from a very young age, it can be unlearned. I think that the best way to unlearn bias and discriminatory behavior is through education and representation in the media. As we saw the older age group answer the same questions, they were able to reflect on the bias they have learned, and say things like “these students are all equal” and understand that worth should not be determined by skin color. I accredit this partially to developing a filter on biased thoughts as you grow up, but I also think it was in part the higher level of education. As students learn about America’s racist history, how this system was set up in favor of white people, and the discrimination people still face today, many can put the pieces together that what they were taught as a child was wrong. This may not happen until people go into late high school or college, but it is important nevertheless. Another way that unlearning discrimination, especially toward oneself (like the young black children saying dark-skinned are ugly, bad, etc.) is representation in the media, and in roles of power. Growing up, there were only white families on television, white dolls in the toy store, and white people (mainly men) in office. Imagine being a young POC, and never seeing anyone that actually looks like you (without a ton of negative stereotypes) being a main character. I think that if we diversify the media and roles in power, young children of any skin color) will see that there are different types of people who should all be treated equally and deserve the same opportunities.

The IAT that we took told me that I had no preference towards either light or dark skin tones, which was something I was already pretty confident in. However, I think the test had its flaws. I think it was confusing and I spent more time learning how to work the game rather than reading the screen. All of the times i pressed the wrong button it was an accident because I forgot which letter was which. However, I thought it was a good tool and I think with some tweaks it could be very effective in showing people their subconscious bias. One major issue I had with the concept of this test in general was how simple it made racism and discrimination feel. Like if you got a neutral preference on the test that automatically meant you are set and don't have any self reflection or work to do in society. I think life is much more complicated than that and just because I got a “no preference” result does not mean that I don't have subconscious biases and can still discriminate no matter how hard I work against it.

Bumblebee
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

The Damage Is Done

I believe discrimination is learned. As shown through Pul Bloom’s “Moral Life of Babies,” infants understand more than previously thought by psychologists. They are able to tell the difference between the color of their own skin and that of someone who is a different race. However, they aren’t born thinking that one color is better, or smarter, or kinder than another. All they know is that their skin is different, which isn’t inherently bad or good to them. That’s not discrimination. But once children start thinking like those in Anderson Cooper’s study, that’s where it is clear that they learned those sentiments from a source independent of themselves. This is shown by the fact that fewer of the younger children in the study answered the darkest two shades to questions such as who was the ugly child. Though the difference between the older and younger groups was small, it still shows that older children answered the darker shades more often because they had more time in their lives to learn biases than their younger counterparts. If the biases were innate, the two age groups of children would have had the same results.

I believe this learning of discrimination happens mainly through family members and the media. In general, young children learn most of what they know about life from their parents because they aren’t in school yet, so that is who they spend the most time around and whose behavior and interactions they witness the most. If their parents are consciously unbiased, and explain that behavior to their children, their children will probably adopt that unbiasedness as well. However, if the their parents are openly racist, then the children will see that behavior and think it is ok, and the opposite will happen. Additionally, if children see movies or read books where the darker skinned children are always the stupid, ugly, or mean characters, the children will come to believe that all dark skinned people are like that. That is why I believe it is important to expose children of all races to diverse media where children of all colors are represented as the smart, beautiful, and heroic characters, so that they’re able to recognize that those stereotypes are incorrect.

I also believe that once the damage is done, there is no way to truly undo it. Even once someone is able to consciously acknowledge their biases, they will always have those implicit biases that they don’t even realize are there. There is no way to undo those. You have to cut them off before they can take root. For example, my own results from the IAT test from class said that I had a slight automatic preference for white people over black people, and while I can consciously hold beliefs that everyone is equal, there is nothing I can change about my unconscious bias, because I don’t control it.

In regards to the IAT test, I agree with @butterfly123 in the sense that I don’t believe the test was entirely accurate as factors such as peoples’ typing abilities and focus affect the results, but I do think it is important to take the test and get a rough idea of your own unconscious biases. I don’t believe that the IAT results are entirely accurate because I just went back and took the test again before writing this post, so that it could be fresher in my mind, and received completely opposite results from what I got in class last week. This now makes me distrustful of both of the results I have received, because I seriously doubt I was able to reconfigure my unconscious biases in a weekend. This means outside factors such as tiredness or general keystroke speed play a huge role in deciding the outcome of your test, rather than your actual implicit biases. However, I know that this is a fairly accurate test for lots of people, and I do think it’s important to understand your unconscious biases in order to prevent them from playing into your decision making processes, so it is a valuable exercise to perform.


Bumblebee
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Originally posted by 239bid0073 on November 16, 2020 09:53

While these were both well done experiments and tests, everything is flawed, and can be questioned. One thing that came to mind when I was reviewing the Anderson Cooper experiment was what would happen if the kids were given a choice of “neither”. Meaning that no one was better than the next person. Would the kids pick that because they thought it might be right, or would they have stuck with the same answers?

I think you pose some very interesting questions here. I, too, was wondering what would happen if the children were given the opportunity to say they didn't have enough information and choose none of them. But then, I wondered if I was putting too much thought into this. We as Facing students are overanalyzing every part of this study because we are trying to find out what the results tell us about children's learned and implicit biases towards race in the United States. But to these young children, they were just pointing to a cartoon doll on a piece of paper. Would they really have thought that critically about the questions to say that they didn't have enough information to answer? Or would they just have pointed to whichever picture seemed the most correct, for whatever reason? I believe the latter option is more likely, so in the end, I don't think the results would've changed much if the children were offered the chance to say, "None."

broskiii
Charlestown, MA, US
Posts: 6

Discrimination At A Young Age

The psyche of a child is very interesting. People believe that children are ditzy and inattentive most of the time because they do not listen to their parents/other adults. However, I believe that they are always listening, but it’s just a matter of whether or not they choose to internalize what they hear. I believe that discrimination is learned because I think that when a person is born, they are good. Only through the course of life, do they suddenly start to shift towards the other side. As I said before, when parents are talking amongst themselves, they normally pay no attention to their children and just start spewing their honest thoughts because they get careless and assume that their child is 1) not listening, and 2) doesn’t understand what it means. Once the child hears something they do not understand, they would feel the need to look it up in a dictionary or to ask further questions. Then their parents would tell them what it means and add in their own personal biases to their explanation; causing the child to think the same way as their parents because they trust them. When I was a child, I believed everything my parents said, whether that is positive or negative. Parents are a symbol of trust and love for a child and I thought that they were also the smartest people on the planet, so of course I would trust them and believe everything they said. As I got older, I realized that not everything my parents say is true, and that not everything they believe in can be backed up with scientific facts. This is similar to one of the results from the doll study. According to the study, there is an increase in preference for the lighter dolls from the three to five year old children and a gradual decrease from the five to six year olds; and a continuous decrease from six to seven. This proves that as someone gets older and is more informed about society, they choose to change their thoughts and break away from their parents’ biases and ideology. They are branching out to find more information themselves and the discrimination and bias towards other group can gradually fade away.

Another result from this study that I found to be very interesting was the fact that the southern children were more likely to choose the darker colored dolls than the northern children. Growing up, I’ve always heard of the north as a beacon for education and that only the most educated are from here because of the abundance of schools we have. Therefore, I automatically thought that the northern children would be more educated on the topic of slavery and segregation happening in the south; thereby prompting them to not have such a bias towards the lighter dolls. I was surprised but then I started to realize that as long as there still is an abundance of children choosing light dolls over darker colored dolls, there will still be discrimination against the 2 ethnic groups.

After doing the IAT test, I thought that it was a very valuable experience that every person should do at least once in their life. At first, I thought that the test was going to be difficult and confusing because it seemed like a heavy topic to have a test on so I was cautious of the process at first. Following the test, I got the result of having a slight bias towards darker skinned people or something along the lines of that, and that result made sense to me because of the recent white supremacy groups and the amount of racism happening in the US makes my blood boil everytime. I definitely think that this had an extremely deep impact on my subconscious and may have affected my score. I do think that this is a good way to assess our associations because sometimes you can lie to your friends/yourself about what your likes and dislikes are/what values are truly important to you, but you can never lie to your own brain. So by doing tests that tap into our subconscious mind, I think that it gives us a sense of astonishment when we get the results back and that it is something cool to share with your friends.

Facinghistorystudent
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

Biases are hard to change

Children listen, they absorb, and they repeat. Actions in children are a clear representation of their parent’s ideas. Children can absorb ideas from overhearing simple conversations, but also learn them from mimicking others behaviors, especially before they begin to think for themselves. Many people believe that because children seem mostly distracted that they do not absorb the information, but they do, and habits are hard to break.

In the videos we watched in class, they conducted an experiment with 2 groups of young kids. This experiment consisted of young children given a chart that had 5 cartoons ranging in skin color. They were asked a series of questions such as, “who is the one most adults like the best,” and many others. Both black and white children overwhelmingly picked the one with the lightest skin tone. This is just one example of behavior that is observed by young children. These children see the way adults treat other adults in this world and make their own assumptions about it without even realizing what they're doing, and they're internalizing it. I believe that these internalized biases can be undone if put into the right social setting. Children mimic what they see happening, so if they see good happening, they will then act on that. This was seen more in the older group of children. There was one instance where when asked the question, “ which skin color is the most beautiful?,” one little girl dragged her hand across the page from left to right and said everyone. She was able to develop her own understanding of the topic and answer how she truly felt, which was that everyone was beautiful. This is a representation that it can go both ways.

For the IAT test, I thought it was very interesting, yet very programmed to get you to get the results that they wanted. Although the results for many people may reflect on what is actually in the world, I do not think that it can be solely based on this test. At the start of the test, lighter skin tones were paired with good adjectives, and darker skin was paired with bad adjectives. This programmed the participants to get into the system of putting those groups together, which were eventually switched at the end. The results at the end were that most people favored people with lighter skin at least slightly more. I believe that this is where the test is at fault because had the habit been developed the other way around and had darker skin be paired with good adjectives in the beginning, the results could have been flipped. However, this is exactly what the above examples of the children are representing. If you are taught something from the beginning, you have to work extra hard to flip it and have it be the other way.

Wyverary
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Unlearning

I think discrimination for or against others is a learned trait. Although choosing and judgement are innate human traits, only relatively modern traditions have led to discriminations against others based on their skin tone. However, I think that the majority of this learned discrimination is not intentionally taught: the majority, I sorely hope, of people in the United States do not go out of their way to teach their children to hold people with lighter skin in higher esteem, and hold prejudice against those with darker skin. Rather, I think that this discrimination is enforced by the world children see around them. The majority of tv shows and picture books for young children feature overwhelmingly white characters, which enforces that white skin is a preferred norm. This leads young children to unwittingly accept this as fact, which comes out in the implicit bias found through the doll tests.

Because these beliefs are learned, I think that they can definitely be unlearned. For example, in the doll study, racial bias largely decreased in children from the ages of 5 to 7. This occured in both the positive discrimination for the white doll and negative discrimination for the Black doll. I believe that this shows that during these ages, young children became less influenced by the messages they were getting from the outside world, and became more aware of their own self worth, and the positive messaging they may have been getting from their parents. Since their discriminatory actions changed over time, I think that all learned prejudices can eventually be unlearned.

For my IAT results, I got that I did not have a preference for either race shown. While I was pleased with these results, I do think the test is flawed. Since anyone taking the test knows ahead of time that their implicit biases are being tested, most people likely can self-regulate biases, and will be on a higher alert about exhibiting bias. I think a better form of test is one where the examiners claim something else is being measured. For example, for one study researchers gave preschool teachers recording contacts, telling them it was for a study to see how quickly teachers could respond to and neutralize misbehaving students. In reality, researchers were testing for racial biases, and they found that teachers' eyes much more frequently looked to Black children, particularly Black boys, than children from any other demographic. So I think that a much more effective version of this test would be one where people are unaware their biases are being tested, so they cannot alter their results.





HCK6614JD
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 6

Parents and Surroundings

Children are most affected by the adult figures in their life such as their parents and their surroundings when they're growing up so they’re most likely to learn to discriminate from those factors. Going back on the last LTQ on judging, I believe that judging is innate and it doesn’t need to be taught. Some children will prefer to sit down and play with toys while others who are more active and energetic will prefer to run around and their preference is based on what they’ve judged to be more fun to them. However, if a child chose to discriminate after they’ve judged something, that would be learned/taught because someone has to instill the idea in them that they have to act based on their judgement and especially if the action will end up being harmful towards either side.

Whether innate or learned, I believe that discrimination can be undone because as children grow older, they also learn to have their own views in things and they learn to separate right from wrong. Thinking back on my own childhood, I might’ve not realized it at the time but so many things that had been said to me either from parents or relatives who I was really close with had been racist and discriminatory. When I was young, I pretty much went with what they said and never questioned it because I could see where they were coming from and didn’t have much experience myself when dealing with the specific group of people that they mentioned. One thing I remember being told the most often is that when my parents(mom to be specific) come across a person with black or darker skin, they would “remind” me to choose a person with lighter skin to marry, preferably a white person, so that our baby wouldn’t be “dark” and “ugly”. Being told this and other discriminatory things as a young child undoubtedly shifted my views to a more discriminating one towards black people and that just goes back to my point of parents being one of the most influential figures for a child at a young age. Kids are being told and fed all these incorrect stereotypes and views and without them even knowing how much damage those wrong ideas will do, it already shaped who they are and their views bit by bit as they grow up.

Although I think the IAT holds a certain truth value in that it could measure the bias that we might have unconsciously, it’s also inaccurate to a certain degree. While taking the test myself, there were multiple questions where I already had my answer in mind but I misclicked the other answer instead. These inaccuracies were then factored into the results so even if I agree with the results I got, I also know it’s not enough to measure how biased I actually am. I agree with sanandomun with how switching the choices around would throw off the person taking the test and lead to an incorrect result. Overall I think that although the idea is there, there are way too many factors which would disturb and throw off the person taking the test for the results to even be as accurate as it claims. It was a nice little exercise for class though to get the general direction of where we lean on the bias scale.

dailychristmascountdown
Posts: 7

Children and Implicit Bias

Witnessing young children display such unconcealed racial bias is disheartening and revealing, because I think their actions show what many adults try to disguise. As explained in the 1940-1941 Kenneth and Mamie Clark study, children as young as three years old displayed basic knowledge about “racial differences,” such as the terms “white” and “colored.” This by itself is not shocking, as it just depicts the children’s ability to discern race, but what I find a little more disquieting is the fact that knowledge of the term “Negro” increased sharply from ages 5 to 6 and then to 7. What this tells me is that children learn to discriminate partly from their own cognitive development, but also are influenced by their surroundings, especially teachers. The Kenneth and Mamie Clark study explained how they attributed the increase in knowledge of the term “Negro” directly to its usage in public schools and the “verbalization of the race concept.” While just the usage of certain racial terms in public schools might not be inherently bad, it suggests that adult bias and adult attitudes toward race influence children heavily. So, I think that children learning to discriminate is partly innate, as a part of learning how to differentiate, but also is extremely influenced by adults who surround their children with racial beliefs, both positive and negative.


What is scary is the thought if racist attitudes imposed upon us as children can ever be undone. When I think about how I learned when I was a child, I mostly remember media: books and television. Partly from those, I learned some of the most basic principles of life: how to be kind, how to make friends, etc. While those are beneficial and innocent lessons, it is frightening to think about how I would be if the media promoted blatant racist ideals and stereotypes while I was young. I can’t imagine myself now trying to rid myself of things I learned from television and books, so it’s sad to think about children before and during the civil rights era who grew up surrounded by the many racist and black-ridiculing children’s books and media. How hard was it to overcome the racist tendencies enforced upon them, and were they ever even able to completely? Without parents intervening, the media is often the most controlling force over, and easily ingrained into children’s minds. This is why I think it would be virtually impossible to eradicate discriminatory tendencies instilled since youth. Our only hope to combat internal racist discrimination is to prevent it in our developing youth by demonstrating equality in media and through teaching.


Anderson Cooper’s video showed many of the younger children not hesitating to point out that they preferred the drawing of the white child, which shows how the children do not even recognize that their discrimination is racially biased. To them, what they prefer is just what they prefer. With no one to steer them differently, children develop preferences to races and do not even know why. I think this is mainly from the lack of equal representation in the media. If I try to recall all the childhood show characters I’ve ever seen, I can guarantee that I will be able to name more light skinned characters than dark skinned.


My IAT results told me that I had a slight automatic preference for light-skinned, which unsettled but did not entirely shock me. I am aware that for my entire life, I have been surrounded by white people more than black people. I also consume the media every day, where I am more likely to see on the news a black criminal than a white criminal. I think about this a lot and try to recognize if I am ever displaying signs of racial preference, and I know I probably do unconsciously. It disgusts me to know that I have this instinct within myself to show preference towards a race, but try to work against that by educating myself more about the communities I failed to learn about growing up.


I agree with @broskii’s quote: “I do think that this is a good way to assess our associations because sometimes you can lie to your friends/yourself about what your likes and dislikes are/what values are truly important to you, but you can never lie to your own brain.” I think that many people who don’t want to be adversaries to a community will falsely market themselves as the “least racist person ever,” but in reality that is a very unachievable position. Everyone has implicit bias and I think one of the most important things someone can do is to acknowledge results of tests like the IAT and take on the responsibility of combatting the biases found.

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