Newsweek's got some unwelcome news out today for new parents:
Their babies are racist.
And it's probably the parents' fault.
"See Baby Discriminate: Kids as young as 6 months judge others based on skin color. What's a parents to do?" which is to appear in the national news magazine's Sept. 14 street edition, has Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman following up on University of Texas research and their own new book NurtureShock.
Bronson and Merryman, of San Francisco and Los Angeles respectively, wrote about parenting for years before collaborating to cover the science of families. The Newsweek website carries their blog, which is also named NutureShock.
They write in their controversial new piece that because most Americans want their children to grow up to be "colorblind" when it comes to race, many parents, particularly white ones, don't discuss race with their children at all. But despite this cone of familial silence, research shows babies as young as six months can recognize racial differences.
As kids get older, they begin to mentally categorize people based on their race with or without their parents' help. The absence of open discussions about race may make matters worse--if you are a foe of discrimination.
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According to Bronson and Merryman's book NutureShock, because children tend to reach their own conclusions, those conclusions may horrify their "colorblind" parents. And just leaving such discussions with a concrete statement like "We're all equal" is not enough, they write.
Their article cites University of Texas research that had 100 white kids between the ages of 5 and 7 asked about their attitudes on race. This was done by sending the kids home with multi-cultural videos and having them comment on the Rainbow Coalition of people shown. The negative answers white children gave about people of color so freaked out some parents that they dropped out of the study, the authors write.
The final results proved shocking even among the children supposedly raised colorblind: 14 percent said their parents didn't like black people, and 38 percent said they didn't know how their parents felt about black people.
So maybe it's not so much the children are racist, but they perceive their parents to be despite what the parents believe to be their best efforts. Kids do say the darnedest things, don't they?