Race awareness in young children.

"The children who are the central characters in our story are in the early stages of a complicated process of development. The grownups around them are likely to think in terms of an arbitrary line between "children" and "grown-ups"--even between "little children"...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Goodman, Mary Ellen, 1911-1969
Format: eBook
Published: Cambridge, Mass., Addison-Wesley Press, 1952.
Online Access:Connect to the full text of this electronic book
Summary:"The children who are the central characters in our story are in the early stages of a complicated process of development. The grownups around them are likely to think in terms of an arbitrary line between "children" and "grown-ups"--even between "little children" and "older children." And these adults hold fairly standardized ideas about what the minds and feelings of children, as compared with grown-ups, are like. They have standardized ideas too about the minds and feelings of little children as against older ones. It is a standardized idea that "little children pay no attention to race." Evidence to the contrary does not fit the patterned expectations. Hence such evidence is likely to remain unnoticed, or to be forgotten, ignored, denied, or misinterpreted. Among adult Americans ideas and feelings about race are highly standardized too. Standardization of this kind does not suddenly emerge full-blown at some biologically predetermined stage, nor is its development necessitated by some innate qualities of the human animal. There is plenty of proof that the adult generally manifests the race attitudes common in his time and his society, and that he would have manifested quite different ones had his time and society been different. So we know that the standardized American ideas and feelings about race are "transmitted" from one generation of Americans to the next, but not as a biologically determined inevitability or at any given point in the formative stages of the oncoming generation. Getting acquainted with our 103 children has taught us something about the timing and the mechanics of that so-called transmission process. It has taught us that "little children" sometimes pay a startling amount of attention to race, that they are ready to pay attention to race just as soon as they pay attention to other physical--and socially significant--attributes (like age and sex), and that the amount and kind of attention paid by different children vary as a function of certain interrelated factors. The high degree of race awareness we have seen in many of these children is startling, and not only because it does not fit our adult expectations. The fact is that mere intellectual awareness of the physical signs of race is not all of the story. There is another part which is not merely startling but quite shocking to liberal-humanitarian sensibilities. It is shocking to find that four-year-olds, particularly white ones, show unmistakable signs of the onset of racial bigotry. So here is a grim, hard fact to be added to the growing collection of grim, hard facts about race relations in America. It is all too clear that the race prejudice which flourishes among us like the green bay tree sends its taproots deep, and even into early childhood. As an equally grim corollary we have another fact. It is all too clear that Negro children not yet five can sense that they are marked, and grow uneasy. They can like enormously what they see across the color line, and find it hard, to like what they see on their side. In this there is scant comfort or security, and in it are the dynamics for rending personality asunder. There are great potentialities in the early attack. The current American system of race relations, which is a function of standardized ideas and feelings about race, can of course be made to change. It is changing, in fact, but too slowly. Since so much of the general welfare is involved, the rate of change needs stepping up. So let us go to the roots of the system--to the early stages in that long, gradual, and continuous process through which the child becomes the man. Let us alter--as much and as many as we can--the materials with which the child will make himself the man. If we do this, even perceptibly, we can count upon the man to alter the materials again in his time"--Book. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
Physical Description:1 online resource (viii, 280 pages) map, diagrams
Format:Master and use copy. Digital master created according to Benchmark for Faithful Digital Reproductions of Monographs and Serials, Version 1. Digital Library Federation, December 2002.
Bibliography:"Notes and references ": pages 271-275.