Magazine article Newsweek

A Dialogue on Race?

Magazine article Newsweek

A Dialogue on Race?

Article excerpt

Byline: Po Bronson And Ashley Merryman

an update to our sept. 14 cover story

How our piece on babies and discrimination became ammunition for Rush Limbaugh.

New social science suggests that parents and educators need to preach racial tolerance to young children overtly and explicitly. Platitudes such as "Everybody's equal" and "God made us all the same" are too vague for children to understand that they refer to skin color. Multicultural television shows also carry their message too implicitly: they don't actually improve children's racial attitudes. The overall message of this science was "Stop speaking in code about race," because kids don't understand the code.

When we reported on that research, we'd hoped to start a thoughtful dialogue, but there wasn't much chance of that when the piece was published with a controversial cover line: "Is Your Baby Racist?" The controversy, though, went in a very different direction than we expected.

Our article--which warned of speaking about race in code--was itself accused of speaking in code. Memes of racism and antiwhite reverse racism have echoed in the mediasphere between liberals and conservatives since President Obama was elected.

Shortly after our piece was published, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd suggested that Joe Wilson's "You lie!" outburst during Obama's health-care address was not spontaneous lunacy, but rather code for "You lie, boy!"--invoking more than a century's worth of the post-Civil War South's defiance against racial equality. …

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