Monday, July 30, 2012

HBD is not-nice.

Taking my cue from John Derbyshire, I've been having "the talk" with my daughters. I believe explaining to them the provenance of their immediate experience and the features of the larger reality to be both right and necessary.

But, honestly, I feel kinda dirty.

Regarding this Newsweek article on racial attitudes in children (via Discriminations and at least one other blog that I can't remember at the moment):

[UT professor Rebecca Bigler's] reasoning is that kids are developmentally prone to in-group favoritism; they’re going to form these preferences on their own. Children naturally try to categorize everything, and the attribute they rely on is that which is the most clearly visible.
We might imagine we’re creating color-blind environments for children, but differences in skin color or hair or weight are like differences in gender—they’re plainly visible. Even if no teacher or parent mentions race, kids will use skin color on their own, the same way they use T-shirt colors. Bigler contends that children extend their shared appearances much further — believing that those who look similar to them enjoy the same things they do. Anything a child doesn’t like thus belongs to those who look the least similar to him.

My experience with my older daughter causes me to doubt this assessment. In the city we used to live in, Γ1 attended kindergarten and 1st grade part-time classes as part of the "homeschool program" of a public charter school. I liked the program in general, but it was here where she was presumably exposed to the diversity dogma.

It took me years to de-program this nonsense. Every evening, I would give Γ1 an opportunity to tell me "what she learned in homeschool", with particular interest in the history and science lessons. Typically, I used these lessons as a springboard to discuss HBD/race-realism. Now that she's older and more perceptive, however, I've been more forthright about putting all the cards on the table. Γ1 used to tell me how "everybody is equal", but the message seems to have gotten through. (Although she probably still thinks her Dad is a bit of a crank, which is fair enough, I guess.)

I think the diversity dogma is intrinsically appealing to children, or at least children living comfortable middle-class suburban lives. "Equality" is "nice"; realism about the world and its dangers is "not nice". And who wants to be not-nice?

OTOH, maybe Γ1 is exceptional in this regard. Before Φ could afford all-white neighborhoods, Γ1 was exposed to somewhat more playmate diversity than, say, her younger sister. And never, to my recollection, did I detect the least bit of reticence in playing with children of other races. She really was colorblind. Not in the literal sense -- she knew children had different color -- but she never invested the kind of meaning in that difference that Bigler predicts.

Younger sister, in contrast, hasn't had occasion to play with minority children. The only time she has seen them is during Halloween when the more "urban" children descend on Φ's lily-white little burg. While not expressing anything specific, I can tell that she gets very . . . reserved is the way I would put it. But Γ2 is also attending 2nd grade in public school, and I think my discussions with Γ1 make her . . . uncomfortable. After all, who wants to be not-nice?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After all, who wants to be not-nice?

I do.

Seriously, when I was that age I bought the racial equality stuff, too, for the same reasons: it was taught to us by school. But I was ten. The thing here is to plant the seeds that she will remember when she's 18... 20... 25... and seeing things through the lens of more experience.