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I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World: A Guide for Parents and Teachers Hardcover – September 9, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This book is useful for all parents who want their children to grow up with healthy attitudes in a world that uses race to separate human beings. . . . A worthwhile read." —Educational Leadership

"This superb, rational, and highly readable volume answers a deeply felt need. Parents and educators alike have long struggled to understand what meanings race might have for the very young, and for ways to ensure that every child grows up with a healthy sense of self. Marguerite Wright handles sensitive issues with consummate clarity, practicality, and hope. Here we have an indispensable guide that will doubtless prove a classic." —Edward Zigler, Ph.D., sterling professor of psychology and director, Yale Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy

"Here, at last, is an intelligent, well-researched and provocative, yet also comforting and reassuring book of advice. For parents who are trying to raise emotionally healthy children in a racially polarized world, Marguerite Wright has performed a timely and tremAndous public service." —Clarence E. Page, syndicated columnist, The Chicago Tribune

"As I read Dr. Wright's book, I was reminded of what it's like to peel an onion. Layer after layer, the book uncovers the complex issues surrounding race and children. With wisdom and compassion, she explains how black and biracial children perceive color and race. But, most importantly, she gives us guidelines we need to raise healthy and happy children in our race conscious world. An excellent primer for parents, teachers, counselors, and anyone who is concerned with the future of our children." —Belva Davis, reporter, KRON-TV, San Francisco

"In her book, Marguarite Wright uses a wealth of examples from her work with children and families and offers a creative array of suggestions and strategies for raising health black and biracial children. This book is a much-needed guide for rearing children in a society that is all too conscious about race." —Tony Paap, president and CEO, Children's Hospital Oakland

"Finally, a practical and intelligent discussion of a complex issue that is so frequently misunderstood. All those who want to raise healthy children who have a positive sense of themselves can gain valuable lessons from this book." —Pedro Noguera, professor of education, University of California, Berkeley

"This is simply the best book I've ever read on raising or teaching minority children. It's short . . . filled with memorable observations and useful advice." —Joe Morris, professor and director, School of Psychology, California State University, Northridge

"I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla should be required reading for teachers who want to foster a positive atmosphere of racial relations for their students, teachers, and administrators." —Valerie Rivers, mentor and kindergarten teacher, Palmetto Elementary School, Fontana, CA

"Just as Jean Piaget's work is a good window into the stages of cognitive development, what Dr. Wright has to say in I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla is an equally important tool for understanding how the stages of race awareness develop in children." —Bob Whitlow, principal, Aurora School, Oakland, CA

From the Inside Flap

Myth: Black and biracial children dislike their race from the time they are preschoolers.Reality: Young black and biracial children are unable to understand racial prejudice. In fact, developmentally they are incapable of understanding the concept of race.A child's concept of race is quite different from that of an adult. Young children perceive skin color as magical?even changeable?and unlike adults, are incapable of understanding the mature concepts surrounding race and racism. Just as children learn to walk and talk, they likewise come to understand race in a series of predictable stages.Based on Dr. Marguerite A. Wright's research and clinical experience working as a child psychologist, I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla teaches us that the color-blindness of early childhood can, and must, be taken advantage of in order to guide the positive development of a child's self-esteem.I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla is filled with practical, positive, and creative ideas for handling common situations such as what to do when your child says she wants a white doll; how to deal with relatives and friAnds who compare your children's skin colors and hair textures; and how to discipline your children so that they can grow up with self respect. Teachers will gain valuable insights about how preconceptions can contribute to a child's success or failure and how to handle discipline problems in the classroom.Wright answers some fundamental questions about children and race including**What do children know and understand about the color of their skin?**When do children understand the concept of race?**Are there warning signs that a child is being adversely affected by racial prejudice?**How can adults avoid instilling in children their own negative perceptions and prejudices?**What can parents do to prepare their children to overcome the racism they are likely to encounter?**How can schools lessen the impact of racism?With wisdom an

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (September 9, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787941964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787941963
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,056,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The book covers a lot of ground. But as a father of a biracial son the most relevant parts for me dealt with light-skinned and biracial children. An important theme of the book is "Don't racialize childhood": Young children should be shielded from our adult racial baggage for as long as possible. Wright believes that early teaching about race and racism tends to result in black children feeling needlessly powerless and confused about their place in this world.
Wright encourages parents to raise older children in such a manner as to teach that integration and educational success are fully consistent with "being authentically black." On this important issue, she encourages parents to become aware and resist notions of black identity that rest on longstanding white racist stereotypes that have been internalized by many African Americans. For example, successful blacks (particularly successful black men) are often derided as "oreos" or "sell-outs."
Sometimes Wright seems to downplay the degree to which residual white supremacy continues to constrict the lives of black children. For example, regarding the classic issue of black "self hatred," she argues that it is rare for young black children to be ashamed of themselves or their race unless they have been abused or explicitly taught racist attitudes by caregivers. On this point, her position differs somewhat from social psychological research that argues that black kids identify with whites because whites simply have more power, wealth, and social status in American society. Yet, I believe Wright is correct when she encourages parents not to get too bent out of shape if their child goes through a stage in which he or she insists that he or she is white.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was very informative. I do a lot of reading on thissubject, as I am a black mother of two bi-racial children, andconsider myself very informed and open-minded. But this book gave me an opportunity to view race, and color perspectives from a child's view and not any adult. Which I must say was very amazing how childrens' thought process are. Anyone that has children no matter what your race, ethnic background etc. should read this book. Even an open-minded person, such as myself that makes a continuous effort to become as knowledgable as possible about this subject learned from this book. A must read book!!!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was exactly was I was looking for. It is NOT a book about adoption. To me, the book was how from the preschool years, children start to form opinions about race on up through the high school years. Also, it's about how teachers and parents can have a profound impact on how children view themselves in situations where they would be in the minority. I would highly recommend this book especially to parents like myself (black/hispanic with a white husband). Our daughters look hispanic and we live in an entirely white community. Our girls are ALWAYS the only ones with "brown" skin (as they say) in their classrooms. This book actually helps you address some of these issues and how to talk to teachers. Excellent book!
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a biological mom of a caucasian son, and an adoptive mom of one bi-racial and one african american child. I thought this book spoke in clear, non-clinical terms about how to raise a healthy child with a positive self-image, no matter what the race! In a household like mine, where everyone has a different race but the same name, it is a great resource to see that they all grow up to know they are important, lovable, and vital to our family and our world.
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Format: Paperback
As an adoptive single parent of three beautiful black daughters and a teacher, I have often wondered if we do too much or too little to build self-confidence, pride in self and in race, and awareness of history. Dr. Wright's book combines developmental appropriateness, self-esteem and common sense in a manner that really hit home for me. Her examples are very accurate...and yes, my daughter got tired of being the "runaway slave" and "Harriet Tubman" in chase games and no, her classroom teacher didn't try to perpetuate any racial inequities- it was stupidity pure and simple on her part...she didn't realize that at a certain level, children assume very different things than adults. This book was extremely helpful to me and provided me with a lot of information which was shareable with others, particularly in terms of when and how to present information to children and the ways in which children interpret what they see and hear. There was a strong thread of common sense which gave the book a usefulness to many of us trying to help children find a valid and empowering identity in a changing world.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is by no means useful only to parents of black and bi-racial children. As a white parent I found it very informative and uplifting. Its basic premise, that there is a developmental awareness of race, so different from adults, is often overlooked even by professionals. Dr. Wright points out how much we can learn from this child's perspective and what a fresh start we can have to correct misconceptions. I recommend it to parents, teachers, childcare providers, anyone who deals with children of any ethnicity. After all, kids are kids.
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