Van Ausdale, Debra 1954-
Van AUSDALE, Debra 1954-
PERSONAL: Born 1954. Education: University of Florida, Gainesville, M.A., 1992, Ph.D., 1996.
ADDRESSES: Office—Syracuse University, 302 Maxwell Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244; fax: 315-443-4597. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA, assistant professor, 1995-96; Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe, NM, instructor, 1996-97; University of Florida, lecturer, 1996-97; Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, assistant professor of sociology, 1997—.
(With Joe R. Feagin) The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2001.
Contributor to scholarly journals, including American Sociological Review and Journal of American Ethnic History.
SIDELIGHTS: After spending eleven months as a "nonsanctioning" adult observer at a day care center, sociologist Debra Van Ausdale reached a rather disturbing conclusion: three-to-five-year-old children are more race-conscious than adults like to imagine. As Van Ausdale and coauthor Joe R. Feagin demonstrate in The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism, "young children routinely categorize and assess one another along racial lines," explained Mica Pollock in the American Journal of Sociology. For a long time, parents and teachers, along with many experts, have believed that pre-school children are simply too unsophisticated to understand the relation of race and power dynamics, and are even less equipped to use these distinctions. However, through anecdotal and systematic analysis, the authors reveal that children do indeed pick up on the hierarchy of race in American society, and use that knowledge to differentiate themselves, marginalize their playmates, and form playgroups based on race or ethnicity. Moreover, they are often clever enough to disguise this from disapproving adults, and both parents and teachers have reacted with surprise, and often defensiveness, to Van Ausdale's findings. In that sense, even children in day care show a surprising ability to construct their own social reality and make their own rules. Katherine Brown Rosier commented in Contemporary Sociology that "Laying bare the dynamic interactive linkages between selves and society is what the best of sociology accomplishes;" in The First R "this is done with candor, compassion, insight, and great power."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Journal of Sociology, November, 2001, Mica Pollock, review of The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism, p. 853.
Booklist, January 1, 2001, Vanessa Bush, review of The First R, p. 886.
Contemporary Sociology, March, 2003, Katherine Brown Rosier, review of The First R, p. 243.
Library Journal, February 15, 2001, Margaret Card-well, review of The First R, p. 886.
Publishers Weekly, December 18, 2000, review of The First R, p. 69.
Syracuse University Web site, www.maxwell.syr.edu/ (November 22, 2004), "Debra Van Ausdale."*