TC Media Center from the Office of External Affairs

Section Navigation

Worrying Over How to Talk About Race

Derald Wing Sue, a professor of psychology and education at Teachers College at Columbia University and a leading author on race and racism, says it's more about actions than talk. Some well-intentioned parents preach accepting everyone, but their non-verbal cues send a different message, he said.

He recently observed some white mothers with their 4 or 5-year-old daughters on a McDonald's playground. One of the little girls began to play with a younger black boy. Her mother got up and encouraged her to rejoin her friends. As soon as the mother sat down, the little girl went back over to the little boy. At that point all three mothers in unison stood up and said time to go.

Sue says he assumes based on his past research that, "If I talked to the mother, she would talk about equality -'" teaching children not to have prejudice," but her nonverbal cues told her child that certain groups are to be avoided.

This article, written by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, appeared in the March 19th, 2006 publication of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

previous page