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Children are exposed to racial bias

October 1, 2018

Within three separate studies with over 350 white children ages five through 12 researches were able to conclude that kids showed signs of a pro-white bias. The goal of the study was to have an idea of when children start to develop implicit racial bias. When asked to assign certain images to races images with positive reinforcement were associated with white while imagery with a negative cogitation were associated with black.    

This study, done by York University’s Faculty of Health reveals the impact racism has on how the future generations, generation z and generation x, view race. The children who were studied display a clear reflection of the views of past generations. A racial bias that the American society has expressed for the past several hundreds of years. Since the beginning of America white people have viewed people of color as lesser or with a gloomy outlook. As exhibited in the Native American genocide, slavery, and Jim Crow laws, a belief that is so imprinted will be handed down generation after generation.  

“White children have a pro-White bias. They are faster to match pictures of children who are White with positive images and pictures of children who are Black with negative images, relative to the reverse pairing.” Most people have seen the infamous video of children from all backgrounds being asked to choose between two dolls, one black and one white. Almost all the kids immediately gravitated towards the white doll, when asked what the deciding factor between the two dolls were the children replied, “because the black doll is ugly” and why exactly is that? It is unlikely that it is a result on the way that each child is raised because it is almost impossible that 350 kids are all being raised with the same upbringing, but it could be because of how our society has negatively viewed people of color, unintentionally or intentionally.  

Children are also exposed to racial bias through the media, as representation of people of color is something that is so often lacking in kid’s TV shows. It doesn’t help that when characters of color are shown, they often fall into the categories of hurtful stereotypes. In June 2016 the Red Cross was under fire for their racist pool safety poster. The promotion illustrates a dolphin telling kids to “Be cool and follow the rules!” seeming completely innocent until a closer inspection at the sign reveals that all the “cool kids” are of a fair complexion and the “not cool kids” are all of darker skin tones. Are people reading too much into the ad or was it subliminally imprinting a racial bias into children, an easily persuaded audience?  

So, what can be done to prevent these prejudices or at least slow down the rate children are being exposed to them at? It is important to teach children that people come from differently cultural and racial backgrounds, it is not a matter of “not seeing color” but an understanding that people may not look or believe in the same things as us but that is completely okay. The problem with the “colorblind” rhetoric is that we completely erase a person’s background, where they come from, what they believe, their lifestyles, the things that make them unique. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeing a person’s color until a negative cogitation is followed with it. We need to teach the future leaders and voices of the country that the color of our skin makes us no better or worse than another. Then we need to see each other for the individual, not clumping groups together. Racial bias is not something that can completely be erased but slowly dismantle the prejudice thinking that stems from racial bias.  


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