RED CHILDREN IN WHITE AMERICA by Ann H. Beuf

RED CHILDREN IN WHITE AMERICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A research report relatively free of jargon which examines the racial self-identification and preferences of young children and theorizes on their etiologies. Working with Native Americans five and six years old on reservations in Arizona, Nebraska, and South Dakota, Beuf used doll-play and projective storytelling to uncover attitudes. She found--in 1971--a marked pattern of white identification and preference which matches findings throughout the world in comparable situations. She concludes that children of this age are more influenced by institutional racism (clinic hierarchies, Tonto) than by personal discrimination: in choosing white dolls, they are opting for the good life--bikes, running water, status. Exploring further, she cites the work of Piaget and Kohlberg to see this phenomenon in cognitive-developmental terms and provides some insight into the attitude reversal common around age seven. Children who have no concept of constancy believe they can change their race (or size or sex) on their own; by age seven, most have more stable identities and have begun to separate social variables. Beuf discounts the established wisdom on minority attitudinal development--the ""mark of oppression"" and family dominance theories--in favor of this more complex explanation. The consequences of institutional racism have been characterized before; their intersection with cognitive factors in the growth of self-image, firmly presented here, is an idea worth pursuing.

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 1976
Publisher: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press