Is there a name for the process of treating black children as adults but treating black adults as children

In the wake of some shootings of black children theres been discussions about how in white supremacy it is common to treat black adults as children but treat black children as adults.

The 12 year old black kid with a hoodie is a dangerous criminal and if he breaks the law try him as an adult and throw away the key. The cop who shot him felt threatened and was justified even though the kid was only holding a cell phone. But the 40 year old black adult is too dumb to make his own decisions, too irresponsible to hold any job of importance and too childlike to vote.

I know infantilizing is a concept, but is there a term for this process when it relates to racism and bigotry where not only are adults treated as children, but children are treated as adults? Also, does this only apply to anti black racism? I could be wrong, but I don’t think I see this form of bigotry applied by western white supremacist christians against muslims, latinos, immigrants, asians, LGBT, etc.

The ‘brute’ stereotype?

They’re two different and somewhat unrelated things.

People infantalize lower socio-economic adults as a comment on their (real or perceived) lack of education, sophistication etc and this is particularly prevalent amongst racists against blacks. I think “infantalizing” is probably as good a word as you’ll get for the phenomenon.

People attribute knowledge and sophistication to people they want to hold responsible, and to blame. So it’s often popularly assumed that the family of a terrorist bomber who blew himself up knew what he was doing, so they can be blamed and punished. My child didn’t understand what he was doing when he threw paint on your car and shouldn’t be punished; your child knew exactly what he was doing when he deliberately spilled paint on my car and should be locked up. Again, this is particularly prevalent amongst racists against blacks. I can’t think of any name for it really.

Is there a name for the process of treating black children as adults but treating black adults as children?


Yes, that’s pretty much it. And both are for the same reason: as an excuse for the horrible things being done to them.

Maybe not a racial prejudice but it is VERY common for sexists to infantalize adult women, say they can’t handle their own affairs, think for themselves, etc., but a sexually abused girl “seduced” the poor, older, horny man who raped her.

Yes, let us not overanalyze the inner workings of the racist mind. I don’t care what logical fallacies and other “fascinating” stuff goes on.

Ignorance is good, then?

Thing is, racism is just a sub-category of the human tendency to vilify The Other in general and out-groups in particular.

Thats a good point. A grown woman is just a child, but an actual child who gets abused is a manipulative seductress who was in charge of the whole situation.

Is that term really specific enough for what the OP is describing, though? Surely racism can and does manifest itself as infantilizing adults without precocializing children, or precocializing children without infantilizing adults.

There’s no one word for the manifestations of racism the OP is talking about, although they both fall under the umbrella of “misusing agency” - either assigning it where it shouldn’t be, or removing it where it should be.

If we’re gonna coin a term, mis-agentifying works as well as any other. Or maybe something like misenerging if you prefer that Greek-root style of naming your syndromes.

To me this reads as “surely you can get wet from water running down your neck without water soaking through your clothes or get wet from water soaking through your clothes without water running down your neck”

The answer to “why did I get wet?” is still “it rained”.

Maybe you are correct and Americans are like Inuit and snow and they need 53 different names for racism.
However the OP did not ask for infantilization or adultomorphism, they wanted both at the same time.

What if the question is (as here) “are there specific words for particular modes of leakage - from rain - through your rain gear”?

Is there some particular reason you want to just broad brush it and can’t seem to tolerate analysis of this subject? It’s weird.

Why do you insist there must be a special term covering both racially motivated infantilization and treating black children as adults?

I do not want to “broad brush” anything. I just doubt the existence and usefulness of such a term.

I don’t insist that at all. The OP simply asked if there was such a term and my answer, if you care to look, was “no”.

I can see why the OP might want to use such a term - IME if there’s one thing that isn’t useful, it’s just saying “racist” at people. But if you can say “you are X’ing” where “X” is a term for an obviously irrational fallacy, that has more effect.

Ah, we’re now onto “usefulness”. But “racism” is an entirely accurate term for what the OP asked. And focusing on the specific manifestation of racism is likely to have less effect, in that it allows the perpetrator to ignore the underlying racism driving the actions.

If you insist on a specific term for this specific behavior, MrDibble’s “misusing agency” is in the right ballpark given that the action to deny agency where it exists and to assign agency where it doesn’t. But that’s an academic distinction and not, IMHO, particularly useful.

Since when is “racist” not an “obviously irrational fallacy”?

What are you arguing here?

Racism is wrong, but it’s not an irrational fallacy. It is not logically impossible for one race to be inferior to another (factually untrue in our world, but not logically impossible). But it is logically impossible for one race to be simultaneously both more adult and less adult than another.

It’s a form of setting up someone (or a race in this case) to fail and/or putting obstacles in their way to succeed.

yeah, it’s just racism. The infantilization part is just infantilization. The other part I’ve heard described as “Super-Negro” myth (both positive, to explain sports athletic performance, and negative, to describe why a cop needed maximum force to subdue a child, woman, or injured man).

But it’s just racism. Doesn’t bear much analysis. Condemn it and move on.