February 16, 2010

What Is Wrong With You White People?

So much going on in Jonathan Liu's Geekdad post about how parents are turning our kids into racists. And by parents, I guess Liu means white parents:

The attitude (at least of those who think racism is wrong) is generally that because we want our kids to be color-blind, we don't point out skin color. We'll say things like "everybody's equal" but find it hard to be more specific than that. If our kids point out somebody who looks different, we shush them and tell them it's rude to talk about it. We think that simply putting our kids in a diverse environment will teach them that diversity is natural and good.
I'm sure Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman go into the subject in more depth in their book, Nurtureshock, which is the nominal data hook for Liu's post.

But there are worlds of important distinction between race and racism, and between equality, diversity, and difference. And every mention of the color of someone's skin does not have to be a teaching moment [ugh] for injustice, just as you don't have to warn about date rape every time you identify someone as a boy or a girl.

How To Raise Racist Kids [wired]

6 Comments

I'm currently reading Nurtureshock but haven't gotten to that chapter yet. While I don't encourage my children to be "color blind" I do encourage tolerance and when moments come up (like Obama's election) I do use them to teach about injustice.

see, makes so much sense.

I noted the same thing in my post about Liu's post. I'm glad I'm not the only one, I was starting to think I was the crazy one.

What is exactly wrong with his post? Most of the data came from NurtureShock.

My complaints are what they are, as are my qualifications about the data, which I haven't seen beyond what Liu summarized in bullet points. Talking about skin color and talking about race and talking about racism are as widely different as talking to a preschooler and a high schooler. A teenager in a white suburb has next to nothing in common with my urban 2yo whose playground playmates are all the colors of the Starbucks menu and whose formative image of a president will [eventually] be Obama.

So it's the typical apples & oranges fallacy when talking about Kids These Days, combined with a definition of the race/racism/equality/diversity issue that's truncated to the point of uselessness.

The chapter in NurtureShock was pretty interesting. I think that the people conducting research in this area were definitely focusing on older kids, not toddlers and preschoolers. I have to say that it's not just one group that has 'problems' openly discussing 'race' as a concept.

But the conclusions feel true nevertheless. There's nothing wrong with pointing out differences, and that's what the researchers say is lacking in discussions.

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