How African American Parents Talk to Their Young Children About Race

nyu-iconA new study led by a researcher at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University, finds that when African American parents talk to their children about racial issues, they tend to emphasize equal rights and opportunity rather than racism or discrimination.

The authors of the study found that 55 percent of African American parents emphasized egalitarianism in speaking with their children. This was the most cited area of emphasis cited by parents in the study.

DoucetFrancine Doucet, an associate professor of education at New York University and the lead author of the study, explained that “for African American caregivers, race is a fact of life. At a turning point in their young children’s development, the study’s participants reflected the life lessons they had learned from their experiences, as well as the imagined future into which their children were being launched.”

Dr. Doucet noted that “two patterns emerged: first, families favored messages of egalitarianism as opposed to preparing children for bias; second, middle-class participants were more likely to share their racism experiences, talk about ethnic-racial socialization, and draw a connection between the two.”

Dr. Doucet is a graduate of Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in human development and family studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The study, “What Should Young Black Children Know About Race? Parents of Preschoolers, Preparation for Bias, and Promoting Egalitarianism,” was published on the website of the Journal of Early Childhood Research. It may be accessed here. Dr. Doucet’s co-authors were Meeta Banerjee of the University of Michigan and Stephanie Parade of Brown University.


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