The co-chair of the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) landmark public education project RACE: Are We So Different? wants to broaden conversations on race.
Dr. Yolanda Moses of the University of California – Riverside said today that reports aired recently on the CNN network provided important updated information on skin color bias among youth but encouraged Americans to engage in a more inclusive dialogue that broadens the discussion from black and white to one that better reflects our history and current diversity as a nation.
The CNN reports feature a re-creation of the classic Kenneth and Mamie Clarke “doll studies” of the 1940s that led to the passage of the landmark Brown versus Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision that outlawed racial segregation in public schools. Then and now, children exhibited a preference for lighter over darker skin color when prompted by a series of questions.
“The fact that children of all colors in the United States continue to have preference for lighter skinned dolls should come as no shock to us,” Dr. Moses noted in a statement released today. “Our country is still highly racially stratified. What does success look like in the media? What does beauty continue to look like in magazines and on television and in movies? Yes, we are making gains in terms of embracing the value of diversity in our nation and I applaud that, but the media shows us in 2010 that certain images are still more prevalent, desired and acceptable than others. White images still dominate the media.”
What these reports clearly illustrate are the limits of the use of colorblindness to describe the United States today. There is still the need for all parents and significant adults in their lives to educate children on issues of human diversity and race, which are not one and the same. Of course, this requires that we as adults become better informed and more willing to engage with such issues ourselves.
Dr. Moses is co-chair of the RACE: Are We So Different public education program, an AAA initiative to inform the public on the history, science and contemporary experiences of race, racism and human diversity.
For more information on the RACE Project, visit www.understandingRACE.org.
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