Originally posted by hotchocolate on October 13, 2021 18:41
Referring to the Anderson Cooper video, it was especially interesting to me to see that between those ages of children so young, their views on race didn’t really change. I was thinking about what it would be like if the study was done on adults somehow and then I realized that the children in the study didn’t hesitate to say “that child is dumb because they’re black” because saying it out loud hasn’t been registered as very taboo. What I’m trying to say is that if an adult was asked those series of questions, their responses might align with those of the children (a specific example being the white child chosen for who adults prefer) but as we mature, we understand what’s socially acceptable to say and keep to ourselves so we might not vocalize our internalized racism. Unfortunately even as a person of color, I have been shaped by racism, homophobia, misogyny, and while I vocalize and discuss how strongly I oppose all of those things, sometimes I find it hard to accept that I’m part of the queer community because compulsory heterosexuality. This connects to my summer reading book about interviewing an assassin during apartheid South Africa because should the individual who was notorious for killing hundreds of innocent people be blamed or was it because of the oppressive system at the time (which might warrant an “excuse” or empathy)? It has to do with representation in younger kids, what we as a society choose to expose our children to. The video showed a toy section and like Barbies for example, they were originally all white, and then black Barbies were made honestly to appeal to a wider market and even possibly combat hatred of the lack of diversity in the dolls from the public. At any rate, it's amazing at the range of toys available in stores that serve to uplift everyone but also the amount of damaging stuff that's influencing today's youth (like the body shape of Barbies). To make a personal connection, I work with children in an art nonprofit and over the summer, we took them to the Gardner museum. The old wing is home to mostly white European artists and those depicted in the work, while the students who visit the museum include people of color and of every background. Part of my job at the museum was replacing images of white people and artists with Latinx, indigenous, and Asian/asian american artworks for teachers to use to base discussions on with students. Does this effort along with the rotating new wing exhibitions “compensate” for the lack of diversity in the old wing of the museum (since the way Isabella Gardner left the museum can’t be changed)? Exposure to all different cultures and races in daily life as you’re growing up and figuring out the world is a privilege because it teaches us that differences should be celebrated and kids are extremely affected by nature/environment as well as nurture. What they see and are told gets internalized by them whether consciously or not, and those opinions and beliefs stay with us and are often hard to change. Children are very thoughtful and perceptive and intelligent, noticing everything around them and reflecting what they take in. But it’s true at least for me that as I grow, I acknowledge that most of my friends and family are white and I want to find more ways to connect to my heritage/culture. My parents have always encouraged me to explore my culture and get involved and I think that if they hadn’t had such a big influence on what I chose to put my energy towards that shaped my values, perhaps I wouldn’t be as free and liberal thinking. Also, I remember bad experiences I’ve had with people like if I meet someone named Bob who’s rude, I dislike that name and associate negativity with it. As children are developing how they think and use this information, they might associate negative experiences with certain groups of people, which is hard to break because adults don’t fully speak the same language as children. I feel guilty for knowingly bullying kids as a child as a result of being bullied severely, and as I mature, I need to forgive myself because kids don’t always use words to express their challenges and feelings and often use actions instead as a tool to explore how they relate to others. Then they see how people respond to their actions and words and learn from those experiences. Going back to representation in terms of race, we often aren’t told of “successful” people of color who helped form the world we live in now, partly because they weren’t given those opportunities and that work of white people has always been valued more. Children from a young age in this day and age do have access to social media and everything they see or hear from billboards, advertisements, stories, etc., they learn to question or just internalize without knowing it. In terms of art, it can be a powerful tool to show youth that they can be successful, for example by showing them artists of color like Kehinde Wiley, which opens their eyes to the endless possibilities people of all backgrounds can have. Discussion is essential, no matter how uncomfortable it is, to helping children understand the world and everything that’s good and bad. The more knowledge one has about something they are passionate about changing and bettering, like the stigma surrounding menstruation, the more it inspires them to use their voice and harness their power. Going off of Paul Bloom’s research, babies and even adults mimic others and use that response as information. Children try on different personas and go through “phases” one could say because they’re curious about how others will respond, and that teaches them right from wrong. Young people honestly are the most honest and don’t get enough credit for their intelligence just because society has many things it views black and white and there aren’t many different acceptable ways for interpretation. Yes, race is made up and fiction but it’s real because everyone believes in it and lives it. Relating to Sapiens by Yuval Harari, many things like the government and corporations don’t tangibly exist and essentially they only do because we believe in them. Like if someone got fired from Google, the company wouldn’t shut down or suffer at all, and Google would still exist. Anyway, bias is a part of our lives from the minute we’re born and we’re all faced with making decisions based on our experiences and thoughts. From our favorite stuffed animal to what school we go to.
I like how you included all of the subtle influences, down to the toys that children are given at a young age. These small influences affect how we learn about the world, and inform our implicit biases as we grow.