Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nurture Shock by P. Bronson & A. Merryman

I admit I am 2 years late in finally reading this valuable book, but better late than never. The chapter that struck me the most was "Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race." Although my husband and I are white both our children are adopted. Our daughter is white but our son is Asian. We talked with both children about race from the time we brought our son home. His skin was obviously a different color as were his hair and eyes than his blonde, blue-eyed sister. Reading this book made me realize that most white parents purposely avoid discussing race with their children so they will be color-blind. Of course that is not true. Young children are very aware of differences and without discussion of race will select friends that look like them if available. I thought the study where children could be encouraged to play in mixed race groups in first grade but by third grade the developmental window had passed was very informative. To me this points to the need for discussion of race with young children before the window shuts. Is it any surprise then that the odds of a white high-schooler in America having a best friend of another race is only 8% (92% have a best friend of the same race). For blacks, the odds are not much better 15% (85% of black high schoolers best friends are black. The chapter goes on to suggest using multicultural children's literature and community service projects as a way to start meaningful dialogue about race. The book emphasizes that both parents and educators need to be discussing race with children and modeling cross racial relationships.

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