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Förderung der sozialen Gerechtigkeit | Artikel

von NFI Redaktion

Important insights for caregivers Parents, peers, and schools are all crucial influencing factors impacting the way white adolescents understand racism and their actions for social justice. Explicit conversations with white youth about racism and embedding children in racially diverse environments that acknowledge race are essential to counteract the prevailing colorblind narrative that race „doesn’t matter.“ Conversations with white youth about racial issues must go beyond mere recognition of historical and contemporary racism and promote anti-racist attitudes and actions to combat inequalities. Children receive messages about race and colorblindness from various sources. There is no „neutral“ in racism. All adolescents learn to either reinforce or dismantle systems of inequality that perpetuate and uphold a racist status quo. Therefore, protecting white children from learning about race and the racist history of the United States promotes a type of knowledge that is not bound to the country’s racial reality and further strengthens white dominance and racism.

Contrary to the colorblind narrative positioning racism as a thing of the past and „all being equal,“ racism is embedded in structural forces (e.g., law, institutions, housing) and continues to manifest itself in people’s experiences (albeit differently). The narrative of colorblindness is widespread among white parents and caregivers as well as in predominantly white institutions (including schools). For example, only 53% of white parents believe schools should teach about the lasting effects of slavery and racism in the United States, while 82% of black parents hold that belief. For white youth, social environments that counteract the colorblind narrative and instead address racism can be crucial in promoting social justice.

Regardless of whether children receive explicit messages about race, they interpret the various experiences, interactions, and (un)intentional messages in their lives. Parents, peers, and schools are three interconnected influences that shape how adolescents understand race. For white youth, social environments that counteract the colorblind narrative and instead address racism can be crucial in promoting social justice.

What social contexts regarding race and racism do white youth experience in the United States? In our research study, we examined the numerous influences shaping white adolescents‘ understanding of racism and its resulting effects on their behavior in the realm of social justice. We used survey data from the Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study to examine the racial environments of 323 white adolescents (i.e., the social contexts that can shape their beliefs and attitudes towards race and racism), with a particular focus on conversations with parents about race and racial attitudes, cross-racial friendships, and conversations with peers about race. We also looked at the diversity of youths‘ schools in terms of racial composition and curriculum. We then examined how these different racial environments during adolescence (at ages 16 to 17) affected the social justice actions of white youth two years later in young adulthood. All study participants lived in a racially and socioeconomically diverse county in the eastern United States. Photo: Cottonbro Studio. Pexels. The racial environment for most youth (80%) was characterized by silence or passivity regarding race. Such environments align with a colorblind narrative where racism is downplayed or ignored, limiting the ability of white youth to disrupt and challenge racism. However, the racial environment of some youth (20%) was more racially conscious, meaning that there were more racial conversations, schools were racially diverse, and race and racism were acknowledged in the curriculum, and youth engaged in cross-racial friendships.

How did different racial environments affect the actions of white youth in the realm of social justice? White youth in racially conscious environments showed more social justice behaviors in young adulthood compared to white youth in racially silent environments. These behaviors included participating in civil rights or women’s rights groups. Our findings suggest that white youth are more likely to take actions to promote social justice when they are in an environment that is racially diverse and acknowledges race and racism.

How can parents foster the attitudes and behavior of their white children towards social justice? The results of our study, in conjunction with other recent findings, call into question the often held colorblind belief that not talking about race promotes justice. Instead, they suggest that explicit conversations about racism and inequality and embedding children in racially diverse or racially conscious environments, such as schools, can promote the considerations and actions of white youth in creating and maintaining fair social conditions for all people.

How can parents and caregivers promote a racially conscious environment for white youth? First, parents and caregivers of white children should reflect on their own racial attitudes and beliefs. As we saw in our study, even parents who believed they had a „positive“ racial attitude could promote a colorblind, racist environment for their children. Parents and caregivers need to challenge themselves to think critically about race in the United States and how their own racial identity is related to the perpetuation or destruction of racism. There are numerous resources available to encourage such critical reflection, including engaging with works (e.g., films, books, art) by authors and artists of color that depict the racial reality in the United States. Second, after such reflection, parents and caregivers should talk early and often with their white children about racism. For example, when children bring up race or notice it, parents should engage in conversation about what their child notices rather than silencing them or communicating that noticing race is wrong.

Expanding the skills of white adolescents Discussion about race and racism, celebrating and acknowledging the contributions of people of color (who are often excluded from mainstream narratives), addressing racially motivated killings and violence by law enforcement, and reflecting on the history and current manifestations of white supremacy are essential for building the competency of white youth to work against racism and actively communicate the racial realities of the United States. (Additional resources can be found at EmbraceRace, which raises young white allies.) Finally, our study’s results underscore the multi-dimensional nature of children’s racial environments. In other words, it is not just parents who play a role in how children understand racism but a variety of influences, including peers and schools. Therefore, promoting the social justice behaviors of white youth means embedding children in racially diverse environments where cross-racial friendships can form, and school curricula acknowledge and affirm people of color. Photo: Ron Lach. Pexels. White parents and caregivers can also promote change in their children’s schools by standing alongside parents of color as allies and teaching their children to stand up against racism. Parents can also support candidates in local and national elections who recognize the importance of discussing racism in education. (For further information on the critical race theory debate in schools, click here.) In summary, racial justice requires grappling with whiteness and countering narratives The takeaway message is that achieving a state of racial justice requires engaging with whiteness and resisting prevailing colorblind narratives in the United States that lead to false and inaccurate perceptions of racism. Our study specifically shows how racially conscious environments can counteract the racist status quo by strengthening the efforts of white youth for social justice. Our findings also highlight the role of white parents and caregivers in ensuring that the next generation strives for a just and anti-racist society. While the children’s and family blog’s style emphasizes capitalizing „White,“ the authors intentionally chose not to capitalize the word as it refers to skin color. Information supporting this rule can be found on The Associated Press website. !function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s) {if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function(){n.callMethod? n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)}; if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n;n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version=’2.0′; n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0; t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window, document,’script‘, ‚https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js‘); fbq(‚init‘, ‚743327529596216‘); fbq(‚track‘, ‚PageView‘);

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