Have you taught your child to be colorblind, to see no color? Well, a new study entitled “In Blind Pursuit of Racial Equality?,” shows such thinking affects how elementary school students examine and respond to racially charged incidents.

“In many ways, the logic behind colorblindness is understandable, that downplaying racial distinctions should limit the potential for bias. We see this ideology prominently displayed in many social settings, from the strategies people use to avoid discussion of race in interracial interactions to broader efforts at education reform in which administrators are challenged with managing diversity among school districts and within classrooms,” said Evan Apfelbaum, a visiting assistant professor of management and organizations at Northwestern University’s the Kellogg School.

“However, our research suggests that exposure to colorblindness can actually reduce individuals’ sensitivity to meaningful racial differences. And as a result, when discrimination does occur, individuals with a colorblind mindset often fail to see it as such,” he added.

I am not surprised. The authors of NurtureShock cite research that shows parents must talk about race if they want to raise a colorblind child. Many parents, though, don’t talk with their children about race and leave children to figure it out on their own.

What do you think? Have you noticed a child or children misinterpret racism?

4 thoughts to “Colorblindness Or A Blind Eye?

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  • Blanc2

    I think the reason many parents of biracial children gravitate toward a “colorblind” approach is to avoid instilling in their children the negative self-image that is sometimes referred to as “internal racism.” The message the parents want to convey is “you can conquer the world.”

    However, racism is a reality and, just like any other danger in the world, a responsible parent teaches children to recognize and protect against dangers. For biracial children, the racism issue is perhaps trickier because they could experience racism from both white people and from black people.

    Parents of biracial children need to figure out how to teach the children about the reality of racism in our culture without instilling them with negative self-images about their biracial identity. You can’t do this without talking about race.

    • Honeysmoke

      I agree on all points.

  • Blanc2

    By the way, I have not noticed my chilren misinterpreting racism. Children are much more astute than we often give them credit for. My daughter has a black classmate who was being teased by a white classmate. Though the white teaser made no explicit racist statement, my daughter feels it’s pretty clear that the teasing is motivated by race. She deduced this based on reading between the lines in terms of other things the teaser has said.

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