Boston, Massachusetts, US
I think one of the main reasons children responded the way they did is because of the environment they are growing up in. Parents and teachers are some of the most influential people young kids are around, and children soak up their surroundings and how people are acting around them. In Paul Bloom’s article, he explains how children are born with some sense of right and wrong, but if they are left by themselves, they won’t grow up with the morals that are socially acceptable. For children who are only interacting with one group of people or ideas, it can be difficult for them to adapt to new situations later on in life. Younger children especially, as we saw in the videos from class, are quick to pick up behaviors adults might be portraying around them. Adults might not be saying explicitly racist things, but children can pick up on the small details and adopt their way of acting. The kids who are around 5 years old have no way of understanding racism, but they show biases because of what the adults around them are doing. If they were brought up in a more diverse, open-minded community, the surveys might have had different results. Children should not be showing the amount of racism and racial biases they were displaying in the Anderson Cooper study video. However, the problem isn’t directly with only children. The root of the issue is the adults they are around. In schools, children should be educated on racial biases and other topics pertaining to race at an early age. The earlier we try and instruct children, the more likely they will become increasingly accepting of all people later on. In the Clark study, the conclusion was that children were unaware of racial differences. They were quick to answer the questions concerning white and colored dolls confidently, but not so much for the third. This proves that it is a deeply rooted problem. The highest age was 7 years old and even then, they were still not 100% sure on all of their answers. For me personally, the first kind of education on race was in 8th grade at BLS when I was about 13. That is incredibly late, and for some people who aren’t exposed to different races younger, it can be too late. A solution to this issue could be not only educating children but also adults who are around impressionable kids.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
What's Up with Racial Preference among Children?
The children feel the way that they do based on the environment that they are immersed in. Even if the parents and relatives of that child are not explicitly racist, implicit bias can absolutely affect their actions. Babies are pretty perceptive, which is the whole reason Bloom’s experiment worked so well, because even at a very young age babies were able to differentiate between good interactions and bad ones, and even neutral interactions and bad ones. So even if the people around this child are not intending to act in a hateful way, the subtle ways in which they interact with other people are picked up on by the baby. Especially if the child grows up in an environment where they are not around people who don’t look like them, communicating to the child that new doesn’t equal bad when they have already picked up on all of these biases would be a challenge. The one bit of information that stuck out to me the most was when in the recreation of the doll experiment, they asked the question, “Which skin color do adults not like?” to which the children overwhelmingly responded with the darker skin tones. This is such a crucial piece of information, as it supports the idea that all of this bias is learned. When you are a kid, you are told that adults are always right, so it makes sense that kids would internalize the biased ways in which the adults around them conduct themselves. But this is where part of what Banaji said comes into play- it is never too late to unlearn what you have been taught. It absolutely won’t be an easy process, because that's the thing about implicit bias- its unconscious, so you might not even realize its there but so long as you put the effort in to be in a diverse, and inclusive environment, changing the biased ideas that you have been taught is absolutely an attainable goal. It also should be, I think, part of every school’s core curriculum. Like others have said on this post, the first time I was taught in an academic setting about implicit bias was when I was 13. To only be taught about this at age 13, when people of color have been experiencing discrimination since long before that, is pretty harmful. So it not only is important to be in an environment where these biases don't form, but also to be educated about it so you have the tools to become better even if they do.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
The environment that these kids grow up in and absorb information from ends up allowing them to create, believe, and understand these ideas of racial preference. From parents to teachers to babysitters, the information that children absorb from adults sticks with them and influences a lot of the way they see things. For example, if you tell your child that they shouldn’t play with a certain person because they might hurt them, your kid will probably end up avoiding the person and when confronted say something along the lines of “my parent told me to stay away from you because you’ll hurt me.” Kids are insanely good at picking up on small things, so even the slightest amount of hesitation will alert them something is off and the adult they’re with probably doesn’t like something that just happened, and they’ll most likely remember it. If this is done in a way that involves race, it will most definitely affect how they see other children. Bloom mentions how “... it’s because the sense of right and wrong that they naturally possess diverges in important ways from what we adults would want it to be” (page 2). These kids hear what you say, internalize it, and adapt their thinking about the subject to try and fit your views because as an adult you have more knowledge and you’re trustworthy in their eyes, even if it's some sort of random belief or conspiracy that Ariana Grande is actually the president of three different countries in Europe. Who are we kidding? They'll probably go and tell their friends at school and teachers about it because it must be right if you said it.
And if those ideas continue to be mentioned or if the children aren’t explicitly told not to believe in them, they probably will still believe in it and it will only solidify the more they get older. In Racial Identification and Preference in Negro Children, it is mentioned that “These data definitely indicate that a basic knowledge of “racial differences” exists as a part of the pattern of ideas that Negro children from the age three through seven years in the northern and southern communities tested in this study - and that this knowledge develops more definitely from year to year to the point of absolute stability at the age of seven.” With time these ideas and beliefs will only grow and become more believable. Some might disagree, but if you’ve ever told a 5 year old about the tooth fairy and follow through with what you told them will happen, they’re going to continue to believe it and they’ll only believe it more until you sit them down in the 4th grade and break it to them that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist and they’re not getting any more quarters for teeth.
But of course we can’t assume that children will just blindly accept information and believe it. Take that one little girl from the Anderson Cooper video, she was extremely aware of how some adults are straight up racist and do not like Black people - even though she didn’t really understand it at times. Either way she still disagreed with them but was aware of what they believed and even mentioned that some days she wishes she didn’t have dark skin because she saw it as ‘nasty’ and other people did too. For a kindergarten age child to be this aware of the situations regarding race should be a red flag to us all. Kids are a lot smarter than we think they are and these kinds of ideas about race preference will stick with them, and can potentially be so detrimental to how they see themselves and those similar to them.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Originally posted by
Blue terrier on October 13, 2021 22:16
There are a number of factors that contribute to the incredibly alarming and shocking results that we saw in the experiments that we studied. Perhaps the most glaring or prominent factors to me, are children's lack of exposure to different racial groups that do not look like their own, and also the portrayal of different races through the media that these children are exposed to and consume. Young children and babies are a lot more conscious of their surroundings than we think, or have previously thought throughout history. This is evident through Paul Bloom's article. He illustrates the experiments that were used to show that young children are extremely impressionable, but also incredibly smart. They recognize patterns, human interactions, and have a pretty good understanding of gravity and the world around them. This is the main thing that we can take away from this article, and it is incredibly important and eye opening to me.
Now, with this in mind, it does add some context to the distressing results found in the studies about racial biases in children. A large idea that I took away is that children often associate bad attributes with the unknown. The young children in the CNN study, who have only been alive for a short time, may have not been exposed to different racial groups and identities different from theirs, leading them to automatically associate these groups with something bad. This is also supported by Mahzarin Banaji’s research. The article states even states that ¨“The odds of aging children losing or at the very least lessening their bias against out group people are only increased, of course, when responsible adults in their lives consciously place their children in a position to see different groups interacting as equals.¨ This also does bring up a rather hopeful outlook on these results, as with the right consciously acting adults, a young child could avoid these racist attitudes manifesting in adult life.
This still doesn't explain the results in the CNN video, where young children of color often associate their own race with negative attributes. I believe that this can be attributed to an overall lack of representation in the media that surrounds young kids, and underlying racist undertones that are present. To stray slightly away from the videos and articles for a second, one thing I can recall is students in this class talking about the under representation of their racial groups in media such as movies and TV shows and how this affected them personally. When young children look up to fictional characters in these types of media, and the main characters are often white, it can leave these impressionable young kids feeling lost and often ashamed of their own racial background or skin tones. On top of this, in a country where racism and dsicrimnation is very prominent, it is very easy for young children to be influenced and start to take in these ideologies and beliefs, to no fault of their own. This is also backed by Mahzarin Banaji’s research: “It is not the fault of the children that they grow up to see a majority of power and influence concentrated among one race.’’
One overarching theme among all of these articles and videos was some hope that these biases are not permanent. As incredibly alarming and scary the results were, many said that these can be dropped as one matures and has more experiences in the world. This also adds to the responsibility everyone in the U.S. has, as these racist biases, a lot of the time, have to be dropped manually and actively.
I agree that a lack of representation in media and entertainment can be extremely influential to how kids often associate their own race with negative things. You mentioned how little kids tend to look up to fictional characters and one can only imagine watching a show and not seeing anyone that looks even remotely like them, which can automatically strike up the question of "Why can't someone like me be there? Is something wrong with what I look like?"
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Racial Preference Response
I think Paul Bloom's article on morality ties in with the bias that children exhibit regarding whiteness and varying skin colors. As Bloom stated, babies-while being incredibly young and unconscious- are surprisingly somewhat aware of the distinction between "good" and "bad." Through the various studies that Bloom conducted, a solid argument can be made that babies have a small yet prominent understanding of morality, meaning that they can differentiate and categorize certain situations or behaviors. Using this logic, a valid question must be speculated among audiences: what if a child grows up in an environment that bases good and bad behavior on race?
It seems as though that child in turn will -whether it's conscious or subconscious- internalize the notion that morality is a prospect measured solely on skin color. If that is what they are taught, then that is what they will know. Regardless of how disturbing this answer is, it's prominence apparently still rings true in many households. The video which we watched in class followed a study conducted by Anderson Cooper that showed an overwhelming approval from young children towards light skin, along with a harsh rejection of dark skin. These results prove how effective biases can be when exposed to youths, who absorb its contents accordingly. Children as young as 5 years old have already internalized the ideology of white being right and black being wrong. It is no doubt that these biases sprout from environmental factors, specifically parental behaviors. The research of Mahzarin Banaji also draws the same conclusion, as his studies revealed that young children associate happiness with whiteness, and anger with people of color. It is clearly seen through this research that children absorb prejudice and biases from a very young age as a result of their environments. The bias conveyed might not necessarily be blunt or outspoken, but its subtle presence is enough to completely alter a child's perspective. For example, white parents who only befriend or interact with other white people will implicitly pass on to their child that there is correctness in light skin and an issue in darker skin. Environmental impacts can also expand to a societal issue as well. Mainstream media and beauty expectations have always been centered around light skin. Nowadays more than ever, many children have incredibly easy access to such content, further imposing racial biases on them. It is important that in order to avoid these implications of bias, an ongoing conversation about race needs to be had with young children, along with efforts for more integrated environments and communities.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Originally posted by
dollarcoffee on October 13, 2021 17:26
The footage we watched in class was disturbing, and eye opening. Those kids were very young and answered all the questions honestly, even when they were making racist statements. In Paul Bloom’s article, he details studies on the morality of babies. The finding of all of those studies was that the babies will choose the person who acted nicely, or did the right thing and that the babies do have a sense of morality. Towards the end of the article, Bloom says that morality is “a product of culture and biology.” Culture, and the people you grow up around are incredibly important to shaping your views, which is why I think the children in the video don’t actually understand and believe the statements they’re making, and in fact are just a product of their environment.
As a child, we’re taught that adults are always right and that we should listen to them and what they have to say. I think the children in the video responded the way they did because of thoughts and conversations they’ve overheard and picked up on from adults around them. Children are smart and very receptive, and they tend to absorb and internalize the things they hear adults saying and believe that. That’s why I think so many children made racist statements, and once those children get older and are exposed to more things and people I believe they will change their views. Mahzarin Banaji’s research in this area is incredibly important, as it showed the white children having a heavy white bias and the African-American children having no bias to any race in the study. The author of the article makes the point that racism is learned, and that unless adults actively try to fight against the prejudice society is teaching their kids, it’s likely they’ll absorb it. The author then goes on to say most kids will unlearn their prejudice as they get older and exposed to more people. This is why it’s incredibly important to give kids anti-racism training at a young age, to help them unlearn racism as soon as they can. The Doll study showed that 21 out of the 27 3 year olds in the study chose the African- American doll as the "bad" doll, showing how young children learn these things, which is why it's crucial to teach kids anti-racism as soon as possible. The Globe article talked about how kids can learn racism in days, which is why it’s key to teach them about anti-racism young, as children can absorb things easily and are born with a sense of morality, as Paul Bloom’s article showed.
I agree, its crucial to introduce anti-racism as soon as possible because waiting until someone reaches 13 can be too late. I do think that teaching this anti-racism in schools will probably be difficult because there can be disagreements from parents and officials in the education system that can cause a lot of problems because its a 'touchy subject for such young students'. (My mom's a teacher and based off of what she tells me I feel like that's pretty accurate) I think that a lot of the burden will probably end up on the parents of these kids because as a child's parent you have so much influence over how they think and act regarding topics such as this one.