Children put people into categories. They do this naturally - even six month old infants can nonverbally categorize people by race and gender. This biological tendency to group people leads to bias. Time and again, research has shown that even without the influence of parents, three to five year olds favor representatives of white, middle-class culture.*
In-group/out-group categorization and bias impact views on immigration as well as race. Children see people who look different and speak, dress, and behave in unfamiliar ways as “other.”
Just as we must speak with children often and specifically about race and even racial bias (see Make Race Explicit), we need to do the same about newcomers to our country and people of different cultures and nationalities.