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Children and Race Education

For children to thrive in our increasingly diverse society, they must be prepared to engage with issues of race and racism. Research suggests that two of the best places for children to learn about race and racism are from their teachers and parents (through processes known as ethnic-racial socialization), yet few studies have examined how teachers’ and parents’ influences might interact when predicting children’s racial attitudes. Are the effects of teacher and parental messages independent of one another, or does the effect of one socializer’s message depend on its (in)congruence with messages from the other socializer? Do these associations differ by child’s age or the racial diversity of their schools?


Family Approaches to Inequality and Race

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Parents are one of the most powerful socializers of children, yet to date, developmental research has largely acted as though White families' socialization is "race-neutral". In contrast to research with families of color, few studies have examined the racial goals that White families hold for their kids. The limited research that does exist suggests that most White parents either want their kids to be "colorblind" (ignore race), or they are only comfortable engaging with the "feel good" aspects of race (e.g., celebrating diversity). But there have always been White parents who have aimed beyond colorblindness and so many of our current events make it difficult to ignore race. In this study, we intentionally recruited White parents from a time and place where we believed race would be especially salient: in 2018 from a school that includes social justice as part of its mission.

  • What goals do these White parents have for their White children’s race-related thoughts, attitudes, emotions, values, and behaviors? See the results


  • What steps do parents take to reach these goals? We’re analyzing the data to answer this question right now!

Reseach Team

Meet the Research Team


Cari Gillen-O'Neel

Cari earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Scripps College and her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from UCLA. Cari is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology at Macalester College where she teaches courses in research methods and social development, and she studies children’s identity development.


Virginia received her Ph.D. from the Department of Psychology at UCLA. She is originally from Beaverton, Oregon and attended college at Loyola Marymount University. Virginia is currently a Professor of Child and Adolescent Development at California State University, Northridge. Her research focuses on understanding social and cultural factors—such as discrimination and ethnic socialization—that influence the academic, psychological, and physical well-being of ethnic minority and immigrant children and adolescents.


Asya is a doctoral candidate and National Science Foundation Fellow in the Combined Program of Education and Psychology at the University of Michigan. Her research explores how perceptions of social hierarchy, race-related school experiences, and various ecological contexts shape the conversations African American families have about race. Asya completed her undergraduate degree at California State University, Northridge.


Taylor is a doctoral student in Human Development and Psychology at UCLA. Her program of research examines social identity development in middle childhood, and how children’s proximal contexts (e.g., school, home) shape their understanding of social groups. Taylor received her B.A. in Psychology and Elementary Education from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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