A contributor for The New York Times is imploring parents and teachers to teach “very young” children how to not be racist, claiming that “open conversations about race and racism can make White children less prejudiced and can increase the self-esteem of children of color.”
Writing in a Thursday column, science journalist Melinda Wenner Moyer claimed it was “imperative” parents fill the gap on race education if critical race theory is banned from being taught in schools, and argued that children would naturally become racist if discussions about race and racism were suppressed.
“If race is largely a social construct, then teaching children about it will only perpetuate racism — right? Wrong: Studies show precisely the opposite. Open conversations about race and racism can make white children less prejudiced and can increase the self-esteem of children of color,” Moyer wrote. “If states ban the teaching of critical race theory, as conservative lawmakers in many are attempting to do, or if schools don’t provide consistent education about racism and discrimination, it’s imperative that parents pick up the slack.”
Pro-critical race theory proponents have frequently argued that banning the curriculum is akin to banning any discussion of the history of racism in the country.
“Even if we don’t want them to, children do notice differences in race and skin color. And that means that attempts to suppress discussions about race and racism are misguided. Those efforts won’t eliminate prejudice. They may, in fact, make it worse,” she added.
Moyer said that White people such as herself “shy away” from conversations about race because they’ve been taught to treat the subject as taboo or because they feel making children aware of racism would be problematic.
She added it’s “advisable” to have age appropriate conversations about race with “very young” children as well, citing research that said babies as young as 3 months old can “discern racial differences.”
Moyer went on to cite psychologists who claimed children would develop their own prejudices over time if not taught about race, and that White children who were taught about race became less prejudiced over time and had “more positive attitudes toward Black people.”
“But talking about race isn’t enough. Parents should also foster respect for diverse cultural backgrounds by ensuring their children interact with people who are different from them … If you can choose where you live or where your children go to school, it helps to prioritize diversity,” Moyer wrote, before imploring parents to choose books, TV shows and movies with diverse characters.
“Racism won’t end until parents — and children — see prejudice, recognize its perniciousness and unravel the system that fuels it,” she said.
The pro-CRT article marks yet another example of media outlets pushing against conservative backlash to the curriculum. Critics like the Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo say it teaches that racism is at the root of all American institutions and is part of a broader goal to dismantle capitalism.
“You can teach about slavery, discrimination and racism without using critical race theory. Critical race theory, in simple terms, is an academic discipline that holds that the United States was founded on racism, White supremacy and patriarchy and that those forces are still at the root of our society today,” Rufo said last week on MSNBC. “It’s a radical philosophy that’s rooted in Marxism and is frankly inappropriate as a pedagogical framework for teaching children.”