How Racism and Stereotypes Encounter Children’s Minds

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This article mainly inferred how problematic popular film and tv shows are in encountering children’s vulnerable minds. As far as we concern, broadcast media, tv shows, and social media have been consistently expanded their significance as agents of socialization. 

In a particular case, Disney, one of the biggest film corporations, has expanded its production in making more diverse movies and tv shows for children and teens. Shocking comments given by one of the former head of Disney to his staff “We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. To make money is our only objective” (Rowan, 2005). It is asserted that Disney has repeatedly tried to transmit stereotypes propaganda by mainly depicting the protagonist’s role as a Southern American English Accent or British accent (Lippi-Green, 2011). On the contrary, in portraying villains, animals, and inanimate object’s role, Disney’s film used a speaker/dubber of stigmatized accents like AAVE (African-American Vernacular Accent). Lippi-Green has surveyed twenty-four Disney movies, she uncovered a shared trait of stereotyping in some language accents. In this sense, it is essential to question the illogical decision made by the filmmakers regarding this language-use pattern. Most studies of accents in animated cartoons have revealed that films have a vehicle to brainwash children’s linguistic stereotypes (Bonilla-Silva, 2009). Mostly in a way to put it in long-standing prejudices against people of color and minority religious groups. 

Furthermore, it is found that there is a regular pattern of stereotyping in children's conscious mind, in which they tend to correlate and compare particular characteristics and lifestyles with distinct social groups. It is therefore manipulating children’s (as young as three years old) minds on how to discriminate against other people or groups and show a potential danger with anything coming from the American film industry. Moreover, an alternative interpretation on how ruthless Disney’s Film can be was discovered, particularly regarding how systematically Disney in setting up good and evil conception with strong connections to race and ethnicity in most animated films. The main purpose of this article is not to condemn Disney as an animated production oligarch, neither to insinuate chaos in cinematic creativity, but rather to underline the continuance of exclusionary behaviors, particularly the concerns that we often overlook, which is the ubiquitous presence of racism in the lives of our children. It is hoped that parents will have more responsibility in filtering what is worth watching and what is not to children. Despite, some animated movies have given positive motivation for children to learn as well as enhancing their critical thinking, those kinds of movies might be classified as edutainment movies. 

It is further significant to raise comprehensive awareness on how to educate our children to be racially inclusive and conscious (Quintana, 2008), help them to develop a deep understanding of racism and stereotypes. There are at least two specific skills-set to be integrated into children’s cognitive-social capital. First, as parents or educators, we need to realize that the ability and capacity of recognizing racism and stereotypes cannot be developed through the silence of the parents/educators. We may anticipate that our children would not instantly get familiar and fluent in recognizing racism, therefore an explicit instruction might be necessary. It means that we need to create a meaningful relationship with distinctive individuals around us, people who are different from us, people that might be seeing things differently. These personal connections are often seen as a starting point for change. Another approach that might be employed by the parents is to insinuating a deep-talk with your children. Parents might start to discuss diversity, tell them why people are created different from one another, try to create some imaginary scenes that show what racism looks like and how to deal with it, and support them when they are trying to stand-up or intervene against racism conduct.

“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and the brotherhood will shine over”. Martin Luther King, Jr []

References:

Bonilla-Silva, E. (2009). Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 

Lippi-Green, R. (2011). Teaching Children How to Discriminate (What We Learn from the Big Bad Wolf). In English with an Accent: Language, ideology, and discrimination in the United States. Taylor & Francis.

Quintana, S. (2008) Handbook of Race, Racism, and the Developing Child. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. 

Rowan, D. (2005). Disney’s Marketing Menagerie. The Times.