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Video on Racism in Young Children - Implicit Bias

By Yvette Vignando - 12th April 2012

 

From a Series called Kids and Race, The Hidden Picture shown on CNN.

Watch this ten minute video for an eye-opening insight into what is called "implicit" racial bias in children - filmed in the United States, it indicated that 70% of the 'white' children automatically took a negative and racially biased point of view of typical playground situations, and more than 30% of 'black' or 'coloured' children did the same. Is this the same in Australia and New Zealand and are parents to blame for this?

In a few cases, children expressed a clear view that their parents preferred them to play with children of the same skin colour. I found this video quite disturbing but one point towards the end stood out for me. The researcher ( Dr Melanie Killen, University of Maryland) pointed out that in African American families, parents were more inclined to talk about the issue of race - and she theorised that by talking about it, children had opportunities to think through and discuss issues of racism. On the other hand, in 'white' American families, the researcher said race is more often considered a taboo topic - almost as if talking about race at all might provoke racist beliefs: "If you talk about race, you are creating the problem."

What do you think? I prefer to talk to my kids about difficult issues, contraversial issues and social problems so they have the opportunity to discuss their ideas but sometimes it's hard to find the opening for that kind of conversation. This video emphasised to me that often we don't realise what implicit messages we are passing on, or what messsages children are picking up from friends, friends' families or media.

I would love to read your thoughts on this, especially:

- is this issue unique to the United States or should we be looking at this in Australia, perhaps via the education system. Where are our children getting their attitudes about race?

- is talking about race with children at home the answer? How should we express our views and how strongly?

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