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goldshark567
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

Originally posted by GullAlight on October 13, 2021 23:44

After watching the video about how unrelated our genetics are to most attributes and traits we have, I think children feel the way they do because they are largely impacted by their environment, and therefore their families. We tend to think of babies as not very smart, but it turns out they are very perceptive, and likely pick up on the implicit biases and subtext around them. However, this does raise the question of how neurodivergent children are affected by the biases around them, as they might not be as good at reading body language and tone?

Anyways, getting back to the actual question I'm supposed to be answering, I think children start out without many biases and then pick it up from their parents. From experience as well, when adults say they're trying to be quiet, they're usually not, so if the child then hears them talking and showing their own biases, they will definitely continue to model that behavior. After all, humans are social animals, and approval form one's community is something that everyone, and especially children, seek. In addition, I think people have a tendency to form patterns where there may be none, and to also generalise and dwell on harm done to them in order to avoid it in the future.

I think everyone also has the tendency to develop an us vs them mindset, and of course fear of the unknown would be especially prevalent in younger children. This might be remedied by having more diversity in schools, and dealing with the legacy of redlining so that communities become more diverse.

In addition to teaching young children, I think it's also important to integrate anti-bias classes into school curriculum. Although we might not be able to change the past, we can definitely still help older children recognise those biases as well and try to combat them that way.

Having more diversity in the media and in schools I think is also important. Having representation in schools and seeing others who look like them in the media will help boost self confidence and hopefully help with internalised racism rampant in the US.

That's a very interesting point about how neurodivergent children are affected by biases around them and I think it makes sense that there might be a difference. I wonder if there has been any research into anything similar.

goldshark567
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

Originally posted by augustine on October 13, 2021 19:59

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.

I also remember learning about implicit bias at BLS in 8th grade and I definitely agree that it's something that should be taught earlier. It is so important to acknowledge your implicit biases and to actively work on changing them, which would be easier from a younger age.

caramel washington
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

In my opinion, the bias that we see in children comes from an overall place of fear. When children are brought up in a community where they are constantly surrounded by people who look like them, and no significant efforts are made to teach them not to fear or judge those who are different from them, they will develop bias as soon as they begin to notice differences between groups. However, as soon as children begin interacting with one another and other adults through things like school, these biases can be either confirmed or removed. Although it is clear that young groups of children share similar levels of bias, it is important to note that some kids retain this bias while others unlearn it. As the New York Times article confirmed, people, especially young kids, definitely have the ability to learn and reshape their opinions throughout their lives. I also agree with dollarcoffee’s point that children have a tendency to absorb whatever they are exposed to, which makes their ability to unlearn racist beliefs so quickly even more impressive. As flawed as the doll study from the 1940s may be, it does show that children certainly get more thoughtful with their responses as they age. They are no longer acting on pure instinct, but instead taking the time to analyze the questions and formulate their responses based on what they have absorbed from adults as well as their own life experience.


I think the best way to address this bias is to simply expose kids to other ways of life, and to teach more history. Although I agree with other’s, like augustine and gullalight that implicit bias training should definitely be taught in school, the reality is that in the majority of schools it would simply be incorporated as a few trainings dispersed throughout the vast array of other subjects. There is simply no real way to give this issue the time and energy it deserves within a classroom setting. However, if kids were growing up in communities where they were taught to respect and not fear each other's differences, they would be able to have a greater understanding of their peers, regardless of the messaging they were receiving at home. Additionally, I know at least in my experience, we didn’t learn anything about the history of african americans outside of slavery until high school, and even then we didn’t cover things like jim crow laws until eighth grade. If school curriculums could be less eurocentric, and teach both the atrocities of imperialist attitudes throughout history as well as the contributions of people of color, it might help students address their preconceived notions without needing to address racism directly.


SunflowerSpruce
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

What's Up with Racial Preference among Children?

It is true without a doubt that children absorb everything they experience, see, and are taught from a very young age. Paraphrasing what Paul Bloom states in his article, babies and children are incredibly smart and pick up on everything around them. This is true for small matters, as well as issues as big as racism. From the day they are born, they are learning and internalizing everything that their parents do. Whether their parents, educators, or peers are explicitly trying to teach them or not, the actions that children watch the people around them do becomes their internalized thoughts and behaviors.

I thought it was interesting to see the results of the study by Kenneth and Mamie Clark and how the northern group of students differentiated from the southern group. When children live in more diverse communities, they become less "scared" of other races. By being surrounded by people that are different from them, they in turn are less prejudiced. This does not mean that they do not have internalized bias because in order to be actively anti-racist, one is affected in all areas of life -- home, school, in the media, etc. However, this study demonstrates the differences in prejudice and racism between children who live in more diverse communities and children who live in racially segregated neighborhoods and go to racially segregated schools.

SunflowerSpruce
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

Originally posted by SesameStreet444 on October 13, 2021 23:16

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.

I agree that the bias may not be blunt, intentional, or outspoken, but it is still very much there. It is interesting to see how children can pick up on the actions of those surrounding them at such an early age.

SunflowerSpruce
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

Originally posted by SesameStreet444 on October 13, 2021 22:54

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.

I agree with that children are very good at picking up on the ideas and actions of those around them, and that hypothesis is definitely further proved based on the results of those studies. This is why it is so important to teach our children at an early age to be actively anti-racist and not just a bystander.

Peverley
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

What's Up with Racial Preference Among Children?

I think that children feel the way they do mostly based on the nature of their surroundings. If parents exhibit openly racist behavior, or even subtly show racial preference very often, young children will pick up on it, start to internalize it, and then it will become a part of their way of thinking and behavior. However, given that childrens’ feelings and beliefs are not necessarily rooted in human nature, prejudice can be unlearned if their environment changes.

Paul Bloom's article explains that children are born with basic understandings of how certain physical aspects of life work, as well as some understanding of human emotion and behavior. He mentions several studies that have proven that babies and toddlers are inherently compassionate beings, and being helpful and empathetic is part of human nature, however where things start to differ from child to child is when true morality is called into question. Bloom explained that "[people] tend to associate morality with the possibility of free and rational choice; people choose to do good or evil. To hold someone responsible for an act means that we believe that he could have chosen to act otherwise", meaning that the difference between kindness and morality is the judgement that goes into a certain act. That is, babies and toddlers can do compassionate things for other people, but they do not necessarily realize that they are making a choice, whereas adults often make choices based on moral principles rather than just inherent kindness. Bloom concluded that morality is the combination of one's environment with human nature, however "it is the insights of rational individuals that make a truly universal and unselfish morality something that our species can aspire to" (Bloom). Bloom's research helps explain the development of children's perception of race and goodness vs. badness in that context because they are not born with the moral sense that adults have developed, which is often what dictates racially charged behavior. Young children have a fundamental understanding of good and bad, and beyond this what they believe is based on their environment, so since in the doll experiments there weren't any actions indicating that the darker skinned dolls were inherently "bad", we can infer that the racial preferences the young children had in the experiment were learned.

Mahzarin Banaji’s research is helpful in this context because we can see that children adopt certain ideas and prejudices quickly, however this does not necessarily mean they will always think a certain way. Banaji’s research showed that young white children saw all non-white faces as angry for the most part, and white faces as happy regardless of facial expression. Conversely, Black children showed “equal favorability and negativity biases, regardless of whether they perceived the test faces to be black or white. In other words, the black children showed no pro-black or pro-white bias” (Banaji). Most children probably cannot explain why they think this way, but most of the biases children hold are based on whether or not someone looks like them, and is not rooted in hate like it starts to as prejudiced people get older and more solidified in their ways of thinking. A child can see racist behavior and embrace it when they are very young however if they are put into a new environment where they are surrounded by a diverse group of people and acceptance is a value instilled in them by their parents/caretakers or other people around them, their perceptions can be changed. Depending on how they are raised this can turn into a negative, hate-driven philosophy or they can learn to appreciate everyone’s differences. I think this is a case of nature versus nurture, as children are not born racist, it is their surroundings that may make them so, which means that there is time for prejudice to be unlearned if the environment is changed. However, exposure to diversity is crucial one way or another, and children start to lose their chance at unlearning harmful ideas if they never leave the environment where racial preference is exhibited or where everyone looks like themselves.

I believe that everyone has a capacity for goodness, and that hurtful ideologies can be unlearned if one is placed in the right environment. Even though there are many aspects of life to which we have a biological predisposition, like basic laws of physics, compassion, and overall sense of emotion, general morality is something can vary drastically from person to person, and this is why teaching children to be loving and accepting from a very young age, in addition to placing them in diverse and stimulating environments, is crucial for the betterment of society and the for the future of our country and world.


Peverley
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

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 also thought it was fascinating that in Banaji's study the white children had clear racial bias whereas African-American children had none. This proves that children' concept of race goes beyond what they are familiar and who "looks like them", and they can have some learned and internalized prejudice from a very young age.

Peverley
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

Originally posted by no-one on October 13, 2021 20:16

I think that kids act this way for a couple reasons, and for different kids in different areas it might be different. A lot of young childrens’ ideas about race might be based on in-group membership, like was suggested in the Boston Globe article, which demonstrated young children having biases against people who looked different than themselves (however, this only manifested in the white children, according to the article). However, the article also stated that media perceptions contribute to these ideas: “It is not the fault of the children that they grow up to see a majority of power and influence concentrated among one race...if we don’t act in their lives, as they age, to show context to that imbalance, they may continue to believe that one group is better or worse than the other, based on nothing more than color, features, or

expressions.’’

Taking this in combination with Paul Bloom’s writing about child morality, children may feel that if the world is just and benefits are given to those who do well, and vice versa, (obviously, unfortunately not the case) that the people they see represented in the media for some reason deserve to be there. This is why media representation is extremely important, most especially for young children growing up and seeking role models: if the only characters they see on screen, in their picture books, etc., are white, they may associate this with some sense that people who look like them do not deserve those sorts of positions.

This could be seen by the Black children in the videos we watched in class, and those from the original Clark study, who held negative views toward their own race and were biased toward whiteness. Notably, children from segregated schools in the South tended to have less negative views about other Black children/the black dolls, obviously not to the benefit of segregation but showing that having peers and role models of the same race may serve to lessen these internalized biases.

There are a wide range of factors that likely influence these feelings: in-group identity, internalized racism from parents and teachers, biases in the media, and lack of diversity to provide exposure to both similar and different perspectives, backgrounds, and appearances.

The solution is not entirely clear: I doubt that many parents of the children surveyed intended to teach their children racist ideas and prejudices (at least, not explicitly), but they have still picked them up, and it is the parents’ responsibility to combat this. White parents are certainly less likely to notice this, as their children are biased toward themselves, making it less obvious, but doubly important to fight and teach against. Parents, teachers, and any adults around children have always had the responsibility to teach them what is right and wrong, taking their baseline level of morality and amplifying and adjusting it to make them able to live in society. This is no different.

I think media representation is a really interesting point because racial awareness and fighting prejudice is about more than just who we surround ourselves with in our daily lives. It's also important to see people of all races in positions of influence so as to show that everyone deserves a place in the career path that they choose regardless of their race or background, as well as to provide role models for the younger generations.

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