The author describes how learning race can be like learning language—first, one needs to mouth the sounds, then one needs to learn which sounds are not words and which have meaning to the surrounding people. He notes that the first step in their socialization was being taught that they were not black. He and his sister Alexandra attended nursery school courtesy of the federally subsidized Head Start program. He explains that Head Start was the result of a decade of research showing that the educational deficits poor kids faced in high school could be traced back to their preschool years—that is, to the time when they were with their parents at home.
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