Preempting Racism

Racism is an enduring problem across the United States; however, race-based preferences do not suddenly appear in adults, but rather, they develop over time. A comprehensive approach to racism must focus on how young children develop racial biases. We seek to discover when and why children learn race-based preferences and then pilot and test different approaches to prevent it. This work is already underway between Beyond Conflict and scientists studying the development of racial preferences in children with researchers at Yale, Penn and New York University (NYU).

Our team is conducting research to develop at least 4 measures that can be used to assess race-based preferences in 3-5-year-olds, and test measures with at least 100 children.

Researchers are now conducting pilot intervention programs to identify and refine promising measures that predict the emergence of racial bias in children and which can be influenced with changes in practice (such as generating a different set of conversations around the dinner table or consuming different children’s media programming).

The preliminary results of the interventions will be delivered in mid-April 2019.

Successful interventions could lead to a nationwide campaign to counter racism, including preventing its development in children, “inoculating” teenagers against it, and unwinding existing race-based preferences in adults. Additionally, the framework can be extended to explore what causes other types of discrimination, including religious, ethnic, gender, and age-related.