Originally posted by poptarts on October 13, 2021 22:20
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.
I agree that children, especially toddlers and infants, are highly influential and will inherently believe whatever it is they are told. Often times, false concepts, such as the mystical tooth fairy, are harmless to a child's development and mentality. However, when it comes to race, stereotypes, and biases, it's important that a strong foundation be established right off the bat. This is why it is incredibly important that parents recognize their own biases and be wary not to pass them on to their children.