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Study Shows That White Moms Foster Racism By Avoiding Conversations About Race

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Study Shows That White Moms Foster Racism By Avoiding Conversations About Race.


Reported by Kacie Whaley

Comedian Shawn Harris, who’s been seen on BET’s “Comic View,” recently shared a video of his son that has gone viral.

The video shows the young boy, Tyler, returning to pre-school from a stomach virus, according to Harris’ Facebook page.  As soon as Tyler walks into his classroom, his classmates quickly jump up and embrace him with hugs and yell “Tyler!” A couple of the kids rub his head, with one girl shouting “you got a haircut, you got a haircut!”

The video, which was posted on June 23rd, now has almost 17,000 likes and almost 85,000 shares on Facebook.  Tyler’s father has been expressing his shock of the video’s popularity over social media.

“I’ve been doing comedy for almost 20 years as Comedian Shawn Harris. .true I’ve traveled the world doing comedy in my career & I’ve had some success that im very thankful for – but I may change my name to #TylersDad dαmmit…that lil video Is #GLOBAL I’m just sayin.”

The caption on the footage reads “Kids can end racism” and “This video proves that racism is taught…”  From earlier studies of racial recognition in children, Harris’ latter observation seems to be correct.

Kristina R. Olson, Ph.D. suggested in Psychology Today that children do begin to understand race at a very early age.  She said that they recognize differences, whether it is from facial features, skin color, or hair texture.  When children speak on these differences in public (for instance, a white toddler may be riding a train with her mother and ask why the lady next to her has darker skin), parents tend to “shut down” or “hush” the child’s observation, which causes the child to realize that the subject must be of importance.

Dr. Olson mentioned that she heavily focuses on the behavior of white parents and children in regards to race because a 2007 study by Vanderbilt University suggested that “as opposed to White parents, parents of minority children in the U.S. do talk about race and ethnicity.”  She said that since children will definitely notice racism and racial differences, avoiding discussing the issue will only lead to children coming up with their own, sometimes problematic, conclusions on race.

For instance, a study by Rebecca Bigler, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, showed that “nearly all White mothers [in the study] adopted a ‘colormute’/ ‘colorblind’ approach when discussing a book that was either directly or indirectly about race with their 4-5 year old children; most chose not to discuss race at all.”

Dr. Bigler then did a study in 2006— before the election of President Obama— asking a group of 5-10 year old children why all of the presidents had been white.

“[Dr. Bigler] offered possible explanations and a whopping 26 percent of children endorsed the statement that Blacks could not be president because it was presently (in 2006) illegal!” said Dr. Olson.  “How could 43 presidents in a row all be from the same racial background?! Certainly illegality would explain such a disparity. Thus not talking about race with your kids can result in surprisingly problematic views about race.”

Dr. Bigler’s study came to a couple more important conclusions.  She found that although the parents of the children who she tested claimed that their children would not notice color, the kids tended to favor whites over blacks.  She also found that the 4-5 year olds with parents who had a diverse group of friends showed less racial bias than kids with parents without diverse friends.

“What is more, a study done by Bar-Haim and colleagues in 2006, showed that growing up in a multi-racial environment versus a mono-racial one produced differences in race-based responding in children only 3-months of age!” added Dr. Olson.

So, while Tyler and his friends seemed to love each other without racial bias, the actions of their parents will determine whether their attitude toward race will remain that way.  Since Dr. Olson suggested that parents should “talk about race,” “challenge [children’s] assumptions,” and be a model through their own behavior, it is clear that kids cannot end racism, as Tyler’s dad suggested.  It is up to the parents to do that.

Sources: 1, 2


  1. Harrison Starks

    July 8, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Clearly Tyler’s dad is right in this video but what happens when those kids get home and they parents see video is racism in them going to show or they going to raise the kids and say do just Like them ummmmmmmmmm.

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