Hudson Valley Parent

HVP April 2015

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22 Hudson Valley Parent ■ April 2015 us similar" rather than dealing constructively with differences and challenging bias directly — actually reduces the likelihood that those young people will recognize discrim- inatory behavior when it occurs, or seek to do something about it. "In many ways, the logic behind colorblindness is understandable, that downplaying racial distinctions should limit the potential for bias," said Evan P. Apfelbaum, a profes- sor at Northwestern and one of the three researchers for the 2010 study. "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." Teaching our kids colorblindness when it comes to race often ignores something kids already see: they notice differences right off the bat. "I think that parents shouldn't worry so much about 'pointing out differences.' The research shows that kids notice the differences already," says Melinda Wenner Moyer, a writer on parenting and health topics who lives in Cold Spring. Not talking about differences or about skin color actually puts the By DAWN GREEN W hen we reference "the talk" with our children, most parents immediately think about the birds and the bees. But there is a much more infrequent- ly discussed "talk" that is just as important: the one about race. Just like the birds and the bees, if we don't talk to our children about it, they're going to get uncensored and potentially damaging informa- tion elsewhere. To be honest, even having a talk about "the talk" with other parents was diffi cult. To prepare for this article, I reached out to parents I knew in the neighborhood and in online forums, and asked about their experiences talking to their young children about race. Most said they hadn't had that discussion with their children yet. The main reason they cited for not having a conversation with their children was that they did not want to highlight differences. Instead, they wanted to teach colorblindness, the idea that we are all the same. Experts now say that this approach is detrimental. We're not all the same According to a combined study from researchers at Northwestern, Stanford, and Tufts universities, taking a colorblind approach with young children — such as instruct- ing them to "focus on what makes The talk we're not having, and how to have it Opening a dialogue about race with our children "When parents don't ever talk about di erences, kids start making inferences or assumptions, and that's how prejudices start." — Melinda Wenner Moyer

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