Comment: This story and video clip published by CNN and posted by Glenn Robinson, editor of the Community Village Activist blog, is high revealing and shows where and when the bud of racism should be nipped.
If a child grows up in a society where 99.9% of his or her classmates, best friends and neighbors are white it must reinforce some negative perceptions of those who are different from her. If a child grew up at a school and neighborhood where people were pretty much equal and came from different ethnic backgrounds, would the little girl’s answers be different in the video clip?
But let’s add another matter to the story. What about if on top of the latter we’d teach informally and formally at the near-all-white school stereotypes of “others.” Below is a children’s book used at Finnish schools still in the 1970s. What kind of perceptions did this seemingly “innocent” picture evoke about blacks?
The negro washes his face but grows no paler.
What would you say if a black girl was asked to choose which of the two dolls, a black or white one, was prettier. What about if she responded that the white one was more appealing? What does her answer reveal about her perceptions of beauty, racism never mind self-esteem?
No matter how you look at it, racism and prejudice are pretty devastating for society and the individual since it does not permit neither of the two to realize their full potential.
Has anyone seen research where the researcher asks children, instead of a closed ended question like “Who is the smart one” but instead “Are all phenotypes equally nice and equally smart?” (Children may not know what a phenotype is but that creates a good opportunity to explain that a phenotype is only skin deep). Children can then be asked to explain their answer and where they learned their knowledge or stereotypes. Maybe they learned it from TV, radio, friends, students, family or even their parents.
Thank you Glenn Robinson for the heads up!