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Racial Identity and Children: Dialog is Essential in the HOME

In the summer of 2010, CNN reported on a study they performed in which a racially diverse group of 133 children from eight schools (four in greater NYC and four in Georgia) were shown a cartoon with nearly identical characters whose skin color ranged from very light to very dark. They were asked specific questions intended to determine each child’s perception of people based on race which found that both white and black children alike seemed to have more positive attitudes toward the cartoon characters with lighter skin color, although the white children’s bias was notably stronger.

Once white child said the reason she believed the light-skinned character was smart and the dark skinned character was mean is because the light-skinned character looked like her. She said that the black character was ugly because “she’s a lot darker.” Her mother, in tears, admitted that she hadn’t ever taken the initiative to talk to her daughter about race — her own, or anyone else’s — because her daughter had never asked, but that the study made her realize that it’s time for those conversations to begin taking place.

CNN’s report informs us that, “Research and discussions with parents of the children who participated in this study, indicate that white parents as a whole do not talk to their kids about race as much as black parents. […] 75 percent of white families with kindergartners never, or almost never, talk about race. For black parents the number is reversed with 75 percent addressing race with their children.” CNN has more details about the study available on their website. If you haven’t spoken with your child about his/her own racial identity and begun to instill a respect for everyone else’s, it’s time to start. Every child should be raised to understand the value of personal differences and to recognize the beauty in every shade of humanity.

How do you address the issue of racial identity in your own home?

Do you have any tips for parents who would like to begin?


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Kat Robertson - Web Developer & Graphic Designer / Personal Trainer

The founder of Racially Charged is a 33 year old Atlanta, GA business owner – the Chief Designer at eDesign-Pro Company and Lead Personal Trainer at Fitness Rebooted. Married to her highschool sweetheart with five biracial children, Kat Robertson’s experiences in an 18-year-and-counting interracial relationship have sparked a passion to bring attention to racial prejudice, inequality, and injustice in the world.

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  1. sherry @babypop January 26, 2012 at 12:06 am - Reply

    Funny I read this post tonight My 10 year old son asked me Tonight “what is prejudice?” It was in his school work. (We dont discuss, prejudice in our house we treat every one as same everyone is unique and special ) My thought is teach them good and only good till they are old enough to understand others lack of understanding.
    He is getting to the age where he will be learning and should be learning about the injustice due to religion, skin, sexual orientation, or beliefs. Up to this point he is unaware of prejudice. So I told him. Prejudice is when you don’t like someone for no other reason then they are different from you. It could be there religion skin color, beliefs..

    His response.. “Mommy that is just mean, and wrong”.
    My response “Yes that is right it is mean and wrong”… (Good Boy)

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