"It's the worst kind of embarrassment when a child blurts out, 'Only brown people can have breakfast at school,' or 'You can't play basketball, you're white, so you have to play baseball.' But shushing them only sends the message that this topic is unspeakable, which makes race more loaded, more intimidating"
"I'd always thought racism was taught. If a child grows up in a non-racist world, why was he spontaneously showing race-based preferences?"
"What's wrong with Aunt Jemima?" she asked me, with all sincerity.
In response I gawked and gestured with frustration at the blackface salt and pepper shakers. Her confusion deepened. "Those are just antiques!"
I explained to her that I saw in these "just antiques" vestiges of a narrative all too common. These pieces were turning an entire race of people into exaggerated physical attributes and sending messages of servitude. She said, "I guess I see what you're saying." I hope she did.
So, all that to say that when Bronson and Merryman suggest that their research concludes that raising a child in a "non-racist world" is not enough to combat racial self-segregation and race-based judgments, I'm perplexed. Surely this theory cannot be put to the test anytime soon. When we find (or make!) a non-racist world, then we can reconvene.