Baby 'Bigots'

Janet M. LaRue

9/19/2009 12:50:41 AM - Janet M. LaRue

The Ku Klux Klan may start marketing a line of baby bigot wear if they fall for Newsweek's Sept. 14, cover story, "See Baby Discriminate."

Arguing with Idiots By Glenn Beck

According to the editors at the "we've fallen for him and we can't get up" Barack Obama fan magazine: "Kids as young as 6 months judge others based on skin color." Thanks to Newsweek, we now know why babies are comfortable in hoods-at least white ones-both babies and hoods, that is.

If you expected Newsweek to include a photo of a black baby with a white baby to illustrate its cover story, you probably waste too much money on lottery tickets.

A white baby's face adorns the cover even though the "research" cited by authors, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, in their new book, NutureShock, is based on one "test" of 100 white babies and 100 black babies by one researcher revealing the same response by both races:

How do researchers test a 6-month-old? They show babies photographs of faces. Katz found that babies will stare significantly longer at photographs of faces that are a different race from their parents, indicating they find the face out of the ordinary. Race itself has no ethnic meaning per se-but children's brains are noticing skin-color differences and trying to understand their meaning.

Newsweek editors apparently concluded from this "research" that 6-month old white babies are born racists. What else explains Newsweek's cover question: "Is Your Baby a Racist?" Can Newsweek explain why the cover doesn't include a photo of a black baby?

Bronson and Merryman ask, "What's a parent to do?" Not reading their book and Newsweek comes immediately to mind.

Bronson and Merryman cite another researcher, Birgitte Vittrup, who tested "about a hundred families, all of whom were Caucasian with a child 5 to 7 years old" in the Austin, Texas area: "The goal of Vittrup's study was to learn if typical children's videos with multicultural storylines have any beneficial effect on children's racial attitudes."

The authors don't mention if they asked the researcher why she didn't conduct the same research on black families. Nor do they address other possible explanations for children's responses that have nothing to do with racism.

Bronson and Merryman include a T-Shirt "test," which to them "seems to show how children will use whatever you give them to create divisions-seeming to confirm that race becomes an issue only if we make it an issue":

Vittrup's mentor at the University of Texas, Rebecca Bigler, ran an experiment in three preschool classrooms, where 4- and 5-year-olds were lined up and given T shirts. Half the kids were randomly given blue T shirts, half red. The children wore the shirts for three weeks. During that time, the teachers never mentioned their colors and never grouped the kids by shirt color.

The kids didn't segregate in their behavior. They played with each other freely at recess. But when asked which color team was better to belong to, or which team might win a race, they chose their own color. They believed they were smarter than the other color. "The Reds never showed hatred for Blues," Bigler observed. "It was more like, 'Blues are fine, but not as good as us.'" When Reds were asked how many Reds were nice, they'd answer, "All of us." Asked how many Blues were nice, they'd answer, "Some." Some of the Blues were mean, and some were dumb-but not the Reds.
Were the red shirts all worn by white children? Were the blue shirts all worn by black children? Were the teams mixed? We don't know. Even though racism wasn't a factor in the children's behavior, we're supposed to conclude that little kids who identify more readily with teammates wearing the same color T-Shirt are susceptible to racism?

Apparently, Bigler, Bronson and Merryman have never observed children competing in the unifying experience of team sports. Are the "experts" proposing anti-racism indoctrination for Little League, soccer, softball, and Pop Warner Football? Should every team wear the same color uniform?

"The election of President Barack Obama marked the beginning of a new era in race relations in the United States-but it didn't resolve the question as to what we should tell children about race," according to Bronson and Merryman.

What Bronson and Merryman do admit is that all of the diversity indoctrination and desegregation hasn't made any significant difference in the fact that whites identify more easily with whites and blacks identify more easily with blacks:

All told, the odds of a white high-schooler in America having a best friend of another race is only 8 percent. Those odds barely improve for the second-best friend, or the third-best, or the fifth. For blacks, the odds aren't much better: 85 percent of black kids' best friends are also black.
For Bronson and Merryman, desegregation and the election of a black President of the United States by a white majority are not significant indicia that Americans aren't racist because blacks still tend to have black friends and whites still tend to have white friends.

White parents don't discuss race as readily as black parents do, according to Bronson and Merryman:

From a very young age, minority children are coached to be proud of their ethnic history. ... That leads to the question that everyone wonders but rarely dares to ask. If "black pride" is good for African-American children, where does that leave white children? It's horrifying to imagine kids being "proud to be white." Yet many scholars argue that's exactly what children's brains are already computing. Just as minority children are aware that they belong to an ethnic group with less status and wealth, most white children naturally decipher that they belong to the race that has more power, wealth, and control in society; this provides security, if not confidence. So a pride message would not just be abhorrent-it'd be redundant.

It's quite peachy if minority kids are "coached to be proud of their ethnic history." But it's "horrifying" and "abhorrent" for Bronson and Merryman to imagine "kids being proud to be white." If white parents teach their children to be ashamed and feel inferior because of their ethnicity, is that supposed to improve race relations? And Bronson and Merryman wonder why white parents are hesitant to discuss race with their children.

Newsweek's depiction of white babies as racists has taken the race card to an all-time low. Including mention of Obama with this shoddy research is a deplorable attempt to shame and bully his critics into silence.

As scant as the evidence is for congenital racism, it's as credible as the evidence that homosexuality is inborn. So, maybe racism will also become a protected civil rights class, or at least a defense to a hate crime. They could call it "The Newsweek Racist Protection Act" to commemorate Newsweek's demise.