Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Study: Black children form identity through race, not language

I thought this study was particularly interesting in light of the NYT piece I posted earlier in the week, about how Latinos identify by language and culture rather than by race:
Black children in the same age group tend to form their identity more strongly by the color of their skin than a shared language, according to a new study, while the opposite was true for white children.

A study published in the November issue of Developmental Science and conducted by University of Chicago researchers Katherine Kinzler and Jacelyn Dautel presented some preliminary findings regarding how young children identify with others.

According to a report in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the study cites four experiments, each designed to provide a specific piece of information and control for some variables. Experiments 1, 2 and 4 used children ages five to six, while experiment 3 used children ages nine to 10.

Experiments 1, 2, and 3 used White children and experiment 4 used Black children. In all the experiments, the children. In all the experiments, the children were shown a child and adults and asked, “Which adult does this child grow up to be?”

In experiments 1 and 2, the children picked the adult that spoke the same language as the child in the test, though it was not a racial match. In experiments 3 and 4, the children picked the adult that was a racial match, though they were not a language match to the child in the test.

“The difference between European American and African American children of the same age highlights the potential role of experience in facilitating children’s reasoning about the stability of different social categories,” the researchers wrote.


Jen said...

So interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I would have to know more about this study in order to agree with it. How did the child know the adult did or did not speak his/her language in order to look at the picture and identify with it?
Perhaps language is too big of a word?? Most AA people whom I know speak a different dialect of English than most CC people I know. So much so, that it almost sounds like a different language at times. Sort of like Cajun vs East coast (New England).
If the AA child was shown a picture of an African woman, who spoke an African language, and then was shown a CC woman who spoke English....that would be MUCH different than being shown an African woman who spoke Black English, and then a CC woman who spoke African...And it would also depend on which part of the US these children were from. Inner city Los Angeles AA children (and adults) speak MUCH differently than AA children raised in the Oakland Hills of California, where the people are much more affluent.
Too many variables which were or were not taken into account with this study to really get a grasp on it's ability to be accurate information.
I personally think culture identifies a child more than race. I have an AA friend who is very dark, and her house has a lot of African feel to it. Yet, her two children have albinism and are as white looking as can be. Their fair skin does not define who they are as much as the culture in which their mother raised them. The difference in tones of skin colors and culture also does not seem to be added to the experiment....way too much that can slant this one way or the other....this experiment, IMO, unless there is a lot more too it, is worth very little, if anything.