If You Think Your Kids (or Babies!) Are Too Young to Understand Race, Here’s Proof They Already Do

A multi-ethnic group of preschoolers are playing with plastic blocks together in class.
A multi-ethnic group of preschoolers are playing with plastic blocks together in class.

There’s a pervasive myth that children are these pure, blank slates who cannot develop racial prejudices unless they are explicitly taught to do so. They’re color-blind, many will say, and we shouldn’t talk to them about race because they’re too young, too confused, and too innocent. If a young child does talk about race or expresses any form of bias, many adults quickly change the subject. They’ll dismiss it or cast blame, either with a “you don’t know what you’re talking about” or a “we don’t say things like that.”

Race is one of the first things an infant can discern. And they just keep learning from there.

Although it’s true that babies may be born as blank slates, decades worth of psychological research has discovered that, developmentally, race is one of the earliest emerging social categories.

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