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I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World

ISBN: 978-0-7879-5234-1
304 pages
May 2000, Jossey-Bass
I

Description

This superb, rational, and highly readable volume answers a deeply felt need. Parents and educators alike have long struggled to understand what meanings race might have for the very young, and for ways to insure that every child grows up with a healthy sense of self. Marguerite Wright handles sensitive issues with consummate clarity, practicality, and hope. Here we have an indispensable guide that will doubtless prove a classic.
--Edward Zigler, sterling professor of psychology and director, Yale Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy

A child's concept of race is quite different from that of an adult. Young children perceive skin color as magical--even changeable--and unlike adults, are incapable of understanding adult predjudices surrounding race and racism. Just as children learn to walk and talk, they likewise come to understand race in a series of predictable stages.

Based on Marguerite A. Wright's research and clinical experience, I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla teaches us that the color-blindness of early childhood can, and must, be taken advantage of in order to guide the positive development of a child's self-esteem.

Wright answers some fundamental questions about children and race including:
* What do children know and understand about the color of their skin?
* When do children understand the concept of race?
* Are there warning signs that a child is being adversely affected by racial prejudice?
* How can adults avoid instilling in children their own negative perceptions and prejudices?
* What can parents do to prepare their children to overcome the racism they are likely to encounter?
* How can schools lessen the impact of racism?
With wisdom and compassion, I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla spells out how to educate black and biracial children about race, while preserving their innate resilience and optimism--the birthright of all children.
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Table of Contents

THAT MAGICAL PLACE: RACE AWARENESS IN THE PRESCHOOL YEARS.

Chocolate and Vanilla: How Preschoolers See Color and Race.

How Preschoolers Begin to Learn Racial Attitudes.

When to Be Concerned That Race Is a Problem for Preschoolers.

Raising the Racially Healthy Preschooler.

THE WANING OF RACIAL INNOCENCE: THE EARLY SCHOOL YEARS.

Shades of Brown and Black: How Early Grade-Schoolers See Color and Race.

Black Children's Self-Esteem: The Real Deal.

How School Influences Children's Awareness of Color and Race.

REALITY BITES: RACE AWARENESS IN MIDDLE CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE.

Fading to Black and White: How Children in the Middle Years See Race.

How School Influences Older Children's Ideas About Race.

Preparing for Adolescence: The Lines are Drawn.

A Healthy High School Experience: You Can Make the Difference.

Epilogue.

Appendix: Stages of Race Awareness.

Notes.

About the Author.

Index.
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Author Information

MARGUERITE WRIGHT is the senior clinical and research psychologist for the Center for the Vulnerable Child at Children's Hospital in Oakland, California. Wright lives with her husband and four children in Berkeley, California.
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Reviews

"This book is useful for all parents who want their children to grow up with healthy attitudes in a world that uses race to separate human beings. . . . A worthwhile read."

"This superb, rational, and highly readable volume answers a deeply felt need. Parents and educators alike have long struggled to understand what meanings race might have for the very young, and for ways to ensure that every child grows up with a healthy sense of self. Marguerite Wright handles sensitive issues with consummate clarity, practicality, and hope. Here we have an indispensable guide that will doubtless prove a classic." (Edward Zigler, Ph.D., sterling professor of psychology and director, Yale Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy)

"Here, at last, is an intelligent, well-researched and provocative, yet also comforting and reassuring book of advice. For parents who are trying to raise emotionally healthy children in a racially polarized world, Marguerite Wright has performed a timely and tremAndous public service." (Clarence E. Page, syndicated columnist, The Chicago Tribune)

"As I read Dr. Wright's book, I was reminded of what it's like to peel an onion. Layer after layer, the book uncovers the complex issues surrounding race and children. With wisdom and compassion, she explains how black and biracial children perceive color and race. But, most importantly, she gives us guidelines we need to raise healthy and happy children in our race conscious world. An excellent primer for parents, teachers, counselors, and anyone who is concerned with the future of our children." (Belva Davis, reporter, KRON-TV, San Francisco)

"In her book, Marguarite Wright uses a wealth of examples from her work with children and families and offers a creative array of suggestions and strategies for raising health black and biracial children. This book is a much-needed guide for rearing children in a society that is all too conscious about race." (Tony Paap, president and CEO, Children's Hospital Oakland)

"Finally, a practical and intelligent discussion of a complex issue that is so frequently misunderstood. All those who want to raise healthy children who have a positive sense of themselves can gain valuable lessons from this book." (Pedro Noguera, professor of education, University of California, Berkeley)

"This is simply the best book I've ever read on raising or teaching minority children. It's short . . . filled with memorable observations and useful advice." (Joe Morris, professor and director, School of Psychology, California State University, Northridge)
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