Jane Lane, a “racial equality advocate,” published a new book this week in which she suggests a link between a toddlers reaction to foreign foods and possible future racist attitudes. In Young Children and Racial Justice: Taking Action for Racial Equality in the Early Years, Jane believes society should pay closer attention to children “who react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying ‘yuck.'”
Why? Jane believes such nose-thumbing at ethnic food could be an early indicator that your baby is a racist. I’m not making this up. And, since Jane’s goal is to stamp out racism in the world, parents should heed what Jane sees as an “early warning sign” of racist tendencies. I guess that means if Tommy doesn’t like tacos as a toddler, that’s an indicator he may harbor prejudice against Latinos once he grows up.
While I commend Jane’s desire to end racism, this view troubles me for a host of reasons. Is a parent supposed to place their 18-month-old in sensitivity training because he or she doesn’t like curry dishes? Should a toddler’s food preferences be recorded in a national database so that her elementary school teachers can keep an eye on how she socializes with various nationalities?
No question, racism is a cancer. And teaching our children to love one another regardless of race is imperative. But to suggest disliking the taste of Indian, Cajun, Greek or any other cuisine means a person may be exhibiting racist behavior is a serious stretch, don’t you think? Besides, how can you blame a toddler for not liking steamed broccoli? It’s yucky!
What country is broccoli from anyway?