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Press pause

 Photo courtesy of barnard.edu

Photo courtesy of barnard.edu

“Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful.”
― Margaret Mead

About Skin Color

Brain Pickings is an excellent newsletter on the human spirit written and curated by Maria Popova. This week, Ms. Popova published an article about Margaret Mead entitled, “On the Root of Racism and the Liability of Law Enforcement.” Popova extracted the choice kernels of truth from Ms. Meads’ experience as a world-renowned anthropologist.

Here is one kernel to savor and share:

Children’s initial response to the strange often is one of fear. A brown-skinned child, seeing a white person for the first time, may scream with fear. A white-skinned child, seeing a dark person for the first time, may also. If the screaming, fearful child is comforted, reassured and given a chance to learn to know and trust the stranger, he will have one kind of response — one of trust and expectation of friendship. But if his fear is unassuaged or is reinforced by the attitude of the older children and adults around him, he may come to hate what he has feared.

This is why it is so important in a multiracial world and a multiracial society like ours that children have many experiences with individuals of races different from their own. Only in this way can we hope surely to dispel their early fear of the strange and enable them to distinguish among individuals, caring for some and disliking others, not because they belong to a category of loved or hated people, but because of their own personality, as individuals.

To brush up on Margaret Mead’s remarkable life, here is a link to her biography from the Institute of Intercultural Studies.

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Cover photo by Kathleen Franks

Background image by Getty Images

© 2014 - 2017 Kathleen Franks