New Book Explores What White, Well-Off Parents Are Really Teaching Their Kids About Race

What sociologist Margaret Hagerman finds in her new book “White Kids” is fascinating — and sometimes shocking.

Jake Neher/WDET

Every day we see division in America — which only seems to grow more entrenched in this political and social climate.

The wedges between Americans of different parties, races, genders, sexual orientations, and ethnicities are as apparent now as they’ve been in modern history.

One of the most powerful tools we have to change that is the way we teach our own children to treat and respect others.

Most of us like to think we are raising kids with the values we hope will make the world a better place.

But is that always the case?

Sociologist Margaret Hagerman’s new book takes a very close look at how parents — in this case, white, well-off parents — teach their children about race and racism. What she finds in “White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America” is fascinating — and sometimes even shocking.

Hagerman joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson.

“I think what my research shows is that the choices that parents are making about things like where to live and where to send their kids to school and the extracurricular activities to embrace, the friendships to encourage or even discourage, I think those choices have a lot of influence on how kids think about race,” says Hagerman.

“So I don’t think it’s enough for white parents just to talk to their children about race,” she continues. “I think that this whole concept of white racial socialization is much deeper and I think that it has implications for things like residential segregation, school segregation, and the ways that white parents — especially when they have a lot of resources — set up their children’s lives.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.