Mar 28 2014

How Institutional Racism Affects Blacks Even in Early Childhood

The Department of Education recently released a report showing that of pre-schoolers who are suspended in American public schools, a disproportionate number of them are African American. Black 3 and 4 year olds are about 48% of those suspended even though they make up only 18% of students. Black girls are even more likely to be suspended than boys.

This is consistent with reports showing that black students are far more likely to be arrested or reported to law enforcement in schools than non-black kids for the same infractions. The question of why this is the case may be answered by two recent studies.

One looked at how college students and police officers estimate the ages of children they have been told committed crimes. Both groups studied were more likely to overestimate the ages of black children compared to non-black, implying that black children were seen as “significantly less innocent,” than others.

Other researchers have found that teachers tended to interpret pretend play among black children more negatively than among non-black.

GUEST: Tuppett M. Yates is an associate professor of psychology at UC Riverside. Her paper about the study, co-written with Ana Marcelo, is entitled, “Through Race-Colored Glasses: Preschoolers Pretend Play and Teachers’ Ratings of Preschooler Adjustment”

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