Writers since Piaget have questioned when and how children assimilate racist attitudes-or simply become aware of racial differences. This remarkable book offers stirring evidence that the answers may be more surprising than we ever imagined. The rich accounts of children's behavior around race are drawn from Van Ausdale's ethnographies, conducted in several multi-ethnic day-care centers. When she persistently divested herself of any authoritative role, children as young as 3 years gradually revealed to her a surprising array of racial attitudes, assumptions, and behaviors - most of which they normally withhold from parents and adult companions. The careful ethnographic analysis, conducted over many months, lead the authors to question many of our long-held assumptions about the nature of race and racial learning in American society.
Debra Van Ausdale is assistant professor of sociology at Syracuse University, where her research interests continue to focus on children and racism. Joe R. Feagin is graduate research professor in sociology at the University of Florida.