If you really want to raise your child to be a racist, referring to someone who regards skin colors and ethnicities other than one’s own as inferior, untrustworthy, and in more extreme cases even subhuman, then it will help to know something about how such beliefs get established. It won’t work to sit your child down with a list of propositions about “those others” and have them write out the lines – “All purple people are bad.” “All purple people are bad.” – until they come to believe.
I’m using belief here in distinction from “faith,” “knowledge,” “understanding,” and “wisdom,” in acknowledgement of its subjective bias.
Beliefs, that is to say, are judgments anchored not in objective facts or even very much in logical reasoning, but rather in our emotional commitment to their truth, of their rendering in language the way things really are, once were, or surely one day will be. A belief is skewed in favor of the ego (the personality-controlled mind) that holds them, if only for the sense of certainty it provides, and for the deeper and underyling security such certainty affords.
It’s our Western cognitive bias that would have you believe that the explicit teaching of racist beliefs to your child is the best way to ensure your desired outcome – that your child grows up to be the same bigoted racist you are. This head-heavy, logo-centric assumption has been driving Western education, philosophy, science, religion, and psychology for hundreds of years, operating by its own unquestioned belief that learning is a top-down affair.
All the while, perceptive parents and teachers have observed that youngsters learn more by imprinting and imitation (watching adults and doing what they do), than by listening and following instructions that come down from above.
So, quite contrary to our Western cultural bias, my advice to parents wanting to bring up little racists who might themselves some day strive passionately (even violently) against people of different skin color and ethnicity, is to start not with their minds but with their bodies.
To clarify what I mean, let’s picture the evolution of belief as a vertical continuum that is anchored in the ground of “behavior” and reaches up into the sky of a “worldview.”
As racism is always just one component of a larger worldview, the common mistake is thinking that the real work must be up there, in the explicit judgments, propositional logic, broad generalizations, and dogmatic convictions of what you believe as a racist parent.
But as already stated, this is not how it’s actually accomplished.
The real work must begin with behavior, for the simple reason that the mind aligns with what the body is up to – coming up with justifications, excuses, and likely stories that make sense of how it feels, what it’s doing, or what’s been done.
It’s not even necessary, therefore, to begin by telling your child what to believe (e.g., that “purple people are bad”). All you need to do is take their hand and steer them along a path of behavior that avoids all encounters with purple people. The earlier in their development you can do this the better, since any inadvertent and unsupervised encounter with an actual purple person will likely elicit your child’s natural interest, human empathy, and social engagement – and this can take some time to repeal and replace with the bigotry you are wanting to anchor in.
Be sure to be consistent with this behavioral “steering” of your child, careful to walk quickly to the other side of the street, for instance, when you see purple people up ahead. Don’t spend any time on instruction during this phase, recalling that your principal objective here is not really to teach anything, just to habituate a way of behaving that will provide your child’s mind with the routine body movements and corresponding nervous states upon which it will gradually construct its worldview.
The simple association of a quick 90-degree turn with the sight of purple people up ahead will get anchored into your child’s nervous system, prompting them with the appropriate subconscious directive in future encounters.
What you want from this operant conditioning of your child’s behavior is to anchor in place a set of action codes, or autonomic directives, that conspire together in prompting them to act without thinking. This subconscious process is a system of underlying bio-behavioral mechanisms that support the attitudes that will energize and orient your child’s mental appraisal of his or her world.
As we’re using the term, an attitude is an emotional position the mind takes with respect to its circumstances, or to specific conditions or objects embedded in these circumstances.
The subconsciously generated reaction of hesitation, fear, and vigilance that your child feels as their body makes its programmed detour around the purple people is properly considered an attitude which the youngster is taking with respect to those “bad people” up ahead. As you can see, the important progress you are making has to do with the gradual formation in consciousness of a proto-belief – not yet a formal proposition or doctrine, but rather a physiological reaction and “emotional position” that will serve as the subjective foundation of racist bigotry.
At this point it is helpful to affirm your child’s avoidant behavior, by saying something like, “That’s smart of you to cross to the other side of the street, because you can never know what those purple people might do to you. It’s better to be safe than sorry.” It’s not necessary for you to launch into a long racist diatribe of supremacist orthodoxy, since the “reason” for your child’s avoidant behavior is already anchored in their body and behavior.
It would be much more effective for you to ask your child to justify their behavior to you, asking why they are acting in such an intelligent, careful, and responsible way.
As their mind composes the reasons, stories, and broader theories that justify an attitude of suspicion and antagonism toward this or that purple person, it will steadily clarify into a perspective on purple people in general. From there, belief will broaden out into a philosophy of purpleness and all its negative connotations, eventually getting assimilated into a conceptual lens for viewing reality as a whole. This racist worldview is your ultimate goal as a diligent parent and teacher.
Having reached this point, the bigotry of racism is fully enclosed by convictions from which your child’s mind will likely never break free. Congratulations on a job well done.
One thought on “Bringing Up a Racist”
“Enjoyed” this. First, excellent use of “repeal and replace,” a phrase so commonly used since passage of the ACA with no apparent intent actually to do it, but merely to demonize President Obama’s (who “incidentally” happens to be Black) signature achievement.
Second. I know you couldn’t include everything your diligent parents might do to accomplish their goal in this regard, but another important tactic would be to aggressively disparage the notion of restorative justice, or of any laws intended to remedy centuries of oppression, as reverse discrimination, declaring the dominant, non-purple, group to be the ones who are actually the chief targets of discrimination today, and that people who support remedial legislation or policies as “the real racists.”