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006: Wait, is my toddler racist?

This episode is part of a series on understanding the intersection of race, privilege, and parenting.  Click here to view all the items in this series.

I’d always assumed that if I didn’t mention race to my daughter, if it was just a non-issue, that she wouldn’t grow up to be racist. Boy, was I wrong about that. It turns out that our brains are wired to make generalizations about people, and race is a pretty obviously noticeable way of categorizing people. If your child is older than three, try tearing a few pictures of white people and a few more of black people out of a magazine and ask him to group them any way he likes. Based on the research, I’d put money on him sorting the pictures by race.

So what have we learned about reversing racism once it has already developed? How can we prevent our children from becoming racist in the first place? And where do they learn these things anyway? (Surprise: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”)



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About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (, which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

Her Finding Your Parenting Mojo membership group supports parents in putting the research into action in their real lives, with their real families. Find more info at

She also launched the most comprehensive course available to help parents decide whether homeschooling could be right for their family. Find out more about it – and take a free seven-question quiz to get a personalized assessment of your own homeschooling readiness at

And for parents who are committed to public school but recognize the limitations in that system, she has a course to help support children's learning in school at


  1. Rebecca Chan on November 7, 2018 at 1:01 AM

    Has anyone come up with a list of children’s /toddler books that have illustrations of various races holding various jobs? Like an African American dentist, or a Hispanic scientist.
    I’ve done a google search, and there are some nice looking books on multicultural families, but not particularly books with diverse characters.

    • Jen Lumanlan on November 12, 2018 at 6:58 PM

      Hi Rebecca – I took a look around at some book lists and I’m afraid I didn’t see any books featuring diverse characters in non-family settings. I had thought that Barefoot Books might have something to offer (their website was down for a bit, which partly explains my delay in responding) but while they have lots of books showing diverse children, I was disappointed not to find any featuring other diverse characters. Not sure whether anyone else reading this might have come across such a list…? Please do leave a comment if so.

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