July 10, 2005

Infant prejudice

Early on, I noticed a propensity in my young daughter to manifest a racial preference for whites. When my daughter, who is now two, was just learning to speak and say hi, in public she reserved the greeting for white folks only. Today, she demonstrates a clear preference for white strangers over black strangers, even allowing her self to be picked up and held by white females that she does not know, while rejecting being held by black females.

The other day I attended the wedding of my sister-in-law and at the reception I meet a friend of a friend both of whom are from Africa. As we sat at the table during the reception, one of her little boys got up and went and sat at the table of some white guest. The mother then stated that the she lives in a area that is nearly all white and that her child, who is three, prefers the company of whites. I asked her why she thinks that is and she said that aside from living around whites, whites have been friendlier and more playful with her children than blacks. She stated that whites know how to connect with kids better.

My daughter is around mostly blacks as she is always in the care of family members. She also does not watch TV, so I am rather perplexed as to why she demonstrates this preference. I do not dismiss the experience of the lady from Africa and in fact will say that it has been my experience also in the city that we live. But even before such environmental experience could manifest a preference, my daughter was displaying one. So even though I have also noticed that whites will initiate conversation with my daughter more in public, I do not believe that is the root of the color preference.

Our daughter was born severely premature and spent almost two months in newborn intensive care. The only thing that I can rationalize is that all the nurses in the county hospital were white and they provide her 24-hour care, although my wife there as well. Maybe this imprinted something positive in her mind about white people as they were strangers giving her care and comfort and she did not have the benefit of the care and comfort of strangers coming from a hospital staff dominated by blacks.

One of the consequences of history, I believe, is that whites are now in a better position where they can often offer more than can blacks, in may respects. People are attracted to status and success and whites have more of both relative to blacks, as well as different kinds, if not less, stresses. Couple that with the fact that whites are by far numerically dominant resulting in a Euro centric socialization, it is highly probable that many non-whites will gravitate toward whites. Those most likely to do so are those most divorced from history and how the negativity of whites in the past, against non-whites, is what has put them in their current position of status.

As an example, take the rationale for the growing numbers of black males (and black females too) who are dating whites. The reason that many black men seek out white women is simply because they find white women more attractive behaviorally, if not physically (result of Euro-Centrism). Obviously the black women, behaviorally, is the way she is due to her treatment or rather, mistreatment, in this nation to the degree that the white woman was not mistreated in degree or kind. In short, white women have not been damaged psychologically as have black women by the double blow of racism and sexism. Even though white women suffered sexism, the family unit did not suffer because the white male rule brought the benefits back to the family.

Also as an example, when one uses the phrase nice neighborhood and good schools, the subconscious or conscious connotation is white. In light of this, many blacks rationalize that to move ahead and provide their children the best opportunity and safest environs, they must surround themselves with whites, because whites have the safest communities and best schools on average. Even in Africa and the Caribbean there is propensity to see opportunity in white and hence immigration to white run nations for a better way of life. Even aid and missionary work primarily has a white face on the continent of Africa.

What has transpired is that contemporary white society has inherited the accrued benefits of status and wealth born from centuries of mistreatment and conquest of non-whites land, labor and lives. This does not mean that contemporary whites have not worked hard, but that the foundation in which they now flourish was built off the disentrancement of Native peoples land and lives and African peoples slave labor and lives. Now, whites of today can have the fruits of racism past without having to be racist and they are much friendlier and live in communities free from many of the problems of descendants of slaves and Native Americans.

Whites of today appear very helpful and attractive relative to blacks because they are in a much better position to be helpful and attractive. However, there was once a time despite how little we had, that black folks were the best friends of blacks folks and there is no reason that we cannot return to such a state. When whites were more overtly anti-black and antagonistic, that unified black people and when overt racism waned, black unity waned and individualism and intra-black competition increased to negative degrees, resulting in blacks often feeling more threatened by blacks than whites.

In conclusion, I do not want my daughter socialized to find whites to be more appealing than blacks, for in doing so, she will subconsciously put herself down, as well as, her parentage and ancestry. Ultimately, I desire to see all groups equally, but to recognize she has a commitment to help uplift her people from years of oppression. However, As black unity has waned and individualism has run rampant, competition with each other is doing to us what a racist society used to do overtly. While we war and compete with one and other, white folks come out looking good and many of our folks thus desire to connect themselves with “whiteness” in order to improve their lives and happiness, while seeing "blackness" in a negative light.

I am a firm believer in the individual and collective goal of “success and happiness while black”. Something is still terribly wrong when black people believe that they cannot find or maximize their success and happiness while being and choosing black. We cannot achieve equality or parity if we do not actually start treating and looking at each other in a more positive and supporting way. We must return to smiling at and greeting one and other. We must return to treating the children of others as if they are our own. We must return to valuing and respecting our elders and their wisdom. We must return to the ways when the safest haven for black people was amongst black people. We must return to the days that we could find or maximize our happiness and success while being and choosing black.


At 2:00 PM, Blogger Scott said...

I have given a lot of thought to this.

You should verify that your baby sitters are not allowing her to watch tv.

At 12:35 PM, Blogger Noah TA said...

Let me clarify. My daughter IS NOT INTERESTED IN TV. Thus, she does not watch it not via force...but via choice. She is constantly in motion and gets bored sitting still...unless sleep.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Scott said...

So she doesnt' watch tv when other people have it on ?

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Noah TA said...

Define what you mean by "watching TV"? If a TV is on and she is in the same room, she can SEE the TV but she is not actively watching it.

I take it you think TV is socializing her this way? I really don't think that its the cause.

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Conrad said...

This post makes me recall a series of conversations I had with an old grad school buddy of mine. He’s white and his daughter (who was four years old at the time) tended to gravitate towards, and often prefer, blacks rather than whites. She especially warmed up to me in fact. He and his wife found this to be very funny and bizarre because she had not been around many African-Americans. They came to the conclusion that children are often curious about; and drawn to the unfamiliar. They were pleased that she seemed oblivious to racial biases and hoped that she would maintain her openness – especially as she got older. Children are beautiful because they come out pure. They become screwed up as they get older; where they learn to be prejudiced. Society (i.e. stupid bigoted adults) tells them whom they are supposed to hate and who’s appropriate to befriend, to marry, etc. It’s a tragedy!

At 8:00 PM, Blogger Noah TA said...

Holis, Renu, Nate turner Jones...LOL...Claudia....

You have such a hard time accepting the indoctrination into a white racist society that you need to try to offset the reality with some made up story LOL. There have been studies done in the 50's and 90's that both showed a preference of of young black girls to choose white dolls over black dolls and many of the children who did so gave reasons like...the black doll seems dirty or some other negative connotation.

You cannot full us with your multiple personalities and as long as you know that we know and see through you...thats all that matters.

Maybe the little white kids were attracted to your big boogs Claudia...LOL. GOt Milk.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Octavia said...


You know I was wondering if anyone out there was having the same issues as I am. My daughter is now two years old and is prejudice against dark skinned black people. She perfers light skinned black people or white or mexican. This is terrible. I use to think racism was taught to kids but this is DEFINATELY NOT TRUE. I dont understand it. My daughter is black!! How can she be prejudice against her own kind. She does not watch TV either like your daughter....this is funny! She may watch Barny occasionally at daycare but for the most part at home she runs around playing...WHAT DO I DO...What did you finally do?


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