Colorblind Ideology in Children

On Thursday, we talked about the use of colorblind ideology in general, but what I found most interesting was the way in which it was taught to children. In the study by Apfelbaum et al. (2010), children were put into two conditions: one in which colorblind ideology was taught and one in which talking about racial differences was promoted, or the value-diversity condition. The thing that interested me the most was the way in which they explained their reasoning behind either colorblind ideology or talking about racial differences. The color-blind condition focused on similarities. The message that was told to the children was, “…we need to focus on how we are similar to our neighbors rather than how we are different. We want to show everyone that race is not important and that we’re all the same”. The value- diversity version focused on recognizing differences and celebrating them. The statement taught to these students was, “…we need to recognize how we are different from our neighbors and appreciate those differences. We want to show everyone that race is important because our racial differences make each of us special”.

In class, we spoke about how the use of the word “special” was interesting. I commented that I was actually not opposed to this word. “Special” is a word that young children know and understand well. They cherish the word, so when they hear that something is special, they know that it is good. Of course, the way these children were taught is not ideal, but I do believe that it was the best way to address the issue with children.

Children are like sponges – they soak up everything. They look up to teachers and parents to guide them in their behaviors and even in their thoughts. For this reason, it is important that anyone in a position as a role model talk about racial differences in a way that promotes acknowledging these differences. People may not look the same, but that does not mean that they are any better or any worse than anyone else. Teaching this to children at an early age is one of the best ways to approach racism in the way we have discussed in class.

1 thought on “Colorblind Ideology in Children

  1. I agree and I think that using the word special is a great way to get kids to understand that differences between people are a good thing. It allows them to avoid negative associations with race and lets them start to appreciate differences at a young age.

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