• Jessica Colarossi

    Science Writer Twitter Profile

    Photo of Jessica Colarossi. A white woman with long, straight brown hair and wearing a black and green paisley blouse smiles and poses in front of a dark grey background.

    Jessica Colarossi is a science writer for The Brink. She graduated with a BS in journalism from Emerson College in 2016, with focuses on environmental studies and publishing. While a student, she interned at ThinkProgress in Washington, D.C., where she wrote over 30 stories, most of them relating to climate change, coral reefs, and women’s health. Profile

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There are 4 comments on If Babies and Toddlers Can Detect Race, Why Do So Many Parents Avoid Talking about It?

  1. I do not see how making everything about race is going to help our kids. Babies can detect race? I have no doubt that once babies can distinguishes shapes and colors, then they would be able to distinguish race based on skin color. Their comprehension of race is debatable though. Unless you have indoctrinated your baby at 6 months, they are not categorizing people’s race based off skin color at that age. If anything, they just notice the different colors. Question, what do think the outcome would be if people stopped talking about racism to their kids? If there was a law prohibiting it? Talking about different races and why they looked different would be allowed, but not racism. Do you think kids, who would become adults, would care about different races? Maybe people would just be people and the color would just be a way to further describe someone without a negative connotation. People should worry more about teaching civility and kindness. Do you think they would be wrong? Also, let kids be kids and stop putting your problems onto them.

  2. It’s not race they’re “detecting”, it’s physical differences compared to their primary caregivers.

    They depend on adults for everything, are exceptionally vulnerable, and have to effectively determine who is a safe adult. Correlates of “safe” are: who provides safety, nourishment, enjoyment, etc. and what does that person look like.

    They attach/bond to their primary caregivers and associate what that person looks like with those safety correlates.

    What does the research in blended, multiracial families with children of the same age tell us? That children are more likely to express those multiracial bond attachments as a broader function of who is trustworthy based on physical appearance.

    Some children are startled or fascinated by physical and superficial differences in people not family. Crooked teeth, an amputee, a person who is nongender conforming, skin a different color, hair a different color/texture, different facial features.

    As a 6 year old I recall being fascinated by
    a stranger’s cheek and jawline and couldn’t stop staring. It reminded me of a horse.

    Kids don’t detect “race” because race does not compute as something socially real or relevant for them until they are taught how to process (attach value to) the physical differences they see.

    And if their caregivers teach them through verbal and nonverbal cues that those physical differences are considered in some way deficient or inferior, then kids internalize the foundations for negative racial bias.

    Treat physical differences as neutral/normal and kids are less likely to develop those valuations and biases about them,

    Unfortunately kids dont just learn from caregivers, they are constantly immersed in a social milieu barraged by conflicting messages. If the culture they’re in is a fundamentally dishonest, hypocritical, violent, or socially delayed one (as most racist, sexist, colonialist, capitalist societies are) they are taught to go against their natural curiosity and degrade their own emerging humanity in order to keep their peer group, caregivers, or other influentials happy.

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