The Arizona Department of Education is providing teachers and parents with an “equity and diversity toolkit” that aims to show how racism can manifest in children as young as three months old, and that white children “remain strongly biased in favor of whiteness” by the age of five.
According to the department’s website, the toolkit was created as part of an effort to promote “equity, diversity and inclusion” in the wake of current events that “highlight persistent racial biases” in society. It includes an infographic suggesting that young children “notice and think about race” and that parents must take action before their kids absorb racial biases through interactions with the world.
“At birth, babies look equally at faces of all races. At 3 months, babies look more at faces that match the race of their caregivers,” the infographic says, citing a 2005 study.
The document cites another 2008 study to claim that by five, black and Latino children in research settings “show no preference toward their own groups compared to whites,” while white children at that age “remain strongly biased in favor of whiteness.”
“Silence about race reinforces racism,” the infographic concludes, encouraging adults to actively talk to children about race instead of letting them “draw their own conclusions based on what they see.”
Titled “They’re Not Too Young to Talk about Race,” the infographic was developed by the Children’s Community School, a Philadelphia-based institution that incorporates “the values of economic and racial justice” into its pre-school education programs.
“We recognize that there are structural inequalities in our society, which systemically disadvantage people of color, poor people, and people with other marginalized identities,” the institution says on its website, adding that it has “worked consciously” to “actively fight racism and discrimination of all kinds” since 2014.
The toolkit went viral on social media after it was posted to Twitter by conservative journalist and filmmaker Christopher Rufo. A outspoken critic of critical race theory (CRT), Rufo called on Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, to investigate what is being promoted by the state’s Education Department, calling it “deeply ideological, anti-scientific, and morally bunk.”
The Arizona “equity” toolkit came amid a heated debate over the CRT and its role in America’s social, cultural, and economic institutions. Rooted in the Marxist critical theory of class struggle, the CRT framework views the American system through a lens of power struggles between the race of the oppressor and that of the oppressed. As a result, according to the theory, the very foundations of the American social and political life—such as rationalism, constitutional law, and legal reasoning—are considered tools of racial oppression.