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Adults Have Internalized Dominance Towards Children
We must see their needs as equal.
An excerpt from Children’s Justice:
Internalized dominance is when a group justifies their privilege through the belief that they are superior to marginalized groups and deserve their privileged position. In Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, Ozlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo give a checklist of examples of internalized dominance. Every form of internalized dominance mentioned in their book is present in the justifications adults give for systemically oppressing children. Below is their list, with their examples replaced with examples of how adults express internalized dominance relative to children:
• Rationalizing privilege as natural - Adults see themselves as naturally superior to children.
• Rationalizing privilege as earned - Adults will frequently tell children that they had to go through the same thing as children to justify repeating the same oppression on children.
• Perceiving you and your group as the most qualified for and entitled to the best jobs - Adults see themselves as more qualified and entitled to most meaningful activities in society.
• Living one’s life segregated from the minoritized group yet feeling no loss or desire for connections with them - Adults segregate children from society through compulsory schooling. Adults avoid connecting with children except in specific social contexts. When children make noise in public places or attempt to communicate with adults, they are often treated as a nuisance rather than people worthy of connection.
• Lacking an interest in the perspectives of the minoritized group except in limited and controlled doses or when it appears to benefit the dominant group - Adults silence children and expect them only to share their feelings and experiences in specific contexts convenient for adults. Adults only share children’s experiences when it serves their emotional needs, such as the child appearing “cute” or appealing to the positive emotions of adults.
• Feeling qualified to debate or explain away the experiences of minoritized groups - People frequently invalidate and minimize children’s feelings and experiences.
The way adults relate to children is textbook internalized dominance.
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