Do Black People Suffer as Much as Us? What do the Children Think?

by S Aziz on October 21, 2015 - 9:51pm

“This Is When Racial Bias Begins to Impact a Child’s Empathy for Pain, Study Suggests:” An article written by Macrina Cooper-White who claims the empathy one feels in regards to another’s pain depends on one’s own racial bias, even when it comes to a child. The author states that previous research has shown that White people sweat more when they witness a White person suffering than when it is a Black person, and that a number of doctors prescribe stronger pain medication to White patients compared to Black patients. She affirms this unconscious bias to be a racial empathy gap. She explains this concept through a 2014 study. Its sample included mostly White children at five, seven, and ten years of age. The participants were asked to rate the level of pain they expected both a White child and a Black child to feel in physically painful situations. The youngest children did not show any sign of racial bias, the seven-year-olds showed some, while the oldest children showed strong signs of racial bias. The researchers concluded that potential biases emerge in middle childhood and continue to develop throughout. The article further includes a prevention method: She suggests talking to children about racial issues before they reach seven years of age. Conclusively, the author claims that additional research might one day present opportunities for intervention.

The article “This Is When Racial Bias Begins to Impact a Child’s Empathy for Pain, Study Suggests” includes a precise title, in which the words “Child’s Empathy for Pain” strike us. On may wonder how an innocent child can have less empathy for a person because of something like skin color. Well, Professor Winkler explains, in her article Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race, that the belief that children are immune to racist thoughts is a popular misconception. In fact, she claims racial bias can emerge in a child as young as three years old. Cooper-White’s prevention method fails to consider the complete vulnerability of young children to racial bias. She suggests speaking to children by age seven although by that age, they might have already integrated racial bias. Instead of parents having to destroy a child’s already partially constructed bias through a talk about racial issues, I believe implementing ideas of humanity in the children’s everyday lives, and emphasizing the equality of the diverse groups of people that exist in today’s society, are the most effective ways to prevent the development of racial bias. Although the above article is free of emotions, seemingly not covering the gravity of potential bias developing in young kids, it has many strong points. It includes three studies done at different years supporting the existence of racial prejudice in children. The article is shorter than most articles, thus extremely concise. Although the author does not appear as particularly sensitive to the topic, she yet suggests to the readers a method to prevent or remove biases in children. Conclusively, upon agreeing with Winkler’s statements, Cooper-White acknowledges the children’s immunity to racial prejudice as myth, and encourages parents to act against its development in the future makers of society.


Cooper-White, M. (2014, March 4). This Is When Racial Bias Begins To Impact A Child's Empathy For Pain, Study Suggests. Retrieved October 16, 2015.





The thing drew my attention to this response was the title. The part "What Do The Children Think?" is what specifically made me so interested because it really reminded me of Erin N. Winkle's article "Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race". I deeply enjoyed and was extremely interested in Winkle's article, so I knew that I was going to like this response. The author of the article you read suggested talking to children about racial issues before they reach seven years old. Just like you, I believe in the importance of emphasizing the equality of the diverse groups of people that exist in today’s society to our children. However, I also believe that we should be specially talking to our children about racial issues. A lot of people are afraid to talk to their children about race but I believe that race is something that we need to stop pretending doesn't exist and sweeping it under the rug. By openly talking to our children about race we are limiting the possibilities of them seeing other races in a negative light. The answer to ending racism is definitely not colorblindness; by pretending that things don’t exist we're not helping anyone. Instead of ignoring our differences and focusing on our similarities, let’s celebrate both.

I chose to comment on this response because the title drew my attention, this whole article and response very much reminded me of Erin N. Winkle's article "Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race". I enjoyed reading that article so that is why I want to comment on this. The author of this article says that people should talk to their children by the age of 7; I do believe that parents should discuss the issue of race to their children, but this topic should be talked about much earlier. Research has discovered that by the age of 6 months old, babies can recognize or notice differences when it comes to race and gender; for example, a 6 month old will stare at a person of a different skin color because they recognize it is different than anyone else of a similar skin color than their own or their parents. By the age of 3 to 5 children develop racial biases. Which means they can point out when someone is of a different skin color. Many parents are reluctant to discussing such a topic with their children because they believe that talking about will increase the chance f their children developing racist thoughts. But parents need to talk about because children are seeing it and don’t really understand and parents are the ones that have to explain it. parents need to step up and talk about it, because not talking about it will lead to bad outcomes. it is not a hard subject to talk about if one goes about it simply, that all skin colours are beautiful and that were all equal and the same.

For the fourth comment that we were assigned to do we had the option to comment on any post that we wanted. As I was scrolling through the various posts, this one caught my eye. Throughout this semester we have learned a lot about the reality of racism in our societies; including the concepts of white privilege, and how children are not color blind. The title of this post automatically made me think of these two concepts and I was very curious to see how this post brought them together. As I was reading through this post I was very shocked by the fact that medical professionals would give different amounts of pain medication to children of different races; white children receiving more, allowing them to be more comfortable, and black children receiving less, causing them to feel more pain. I feel as though this is can be explained by the reality of white privilege. In our societies white people are often put on a pedestal, allowing them to reach success more easily in many different aspects of their life. This can be connected to the issue discussed in this post. White children are provided with the medication needed in order to heal at ease, where black children are not give the same opportunity. I agree with this post, stating that it is important to begin to discuss the concepts of racial biases with children from a young age in order to prevent future racial biases. I am curious to know if the children and the families of these children are aware that things like this are occurring in their health care system. It saddens me that there is racism towards innocent, sick children.