Re: Children aren't born to hate
But there is an innate recognition of "Us" and "Them" which can be triggered by skin color. Dr. Robert Sapolsky, in his book "Behave", page 85:
"Our brains are incredibly attuned to skin color. ... By one hundred milliseconds [after seeing a face], brain function already differs in two depressing ways, depending on the race of the face (as shown by neuro-imaging). First, in a widely replicated finding, the amygdala activates. [nb: the amygdala is involved in fear, anger, and recognizing threats.] Moreover, the more racist someone is in an implicit test of race bias, the more activation there is. ... So if whites see a black face shown at a subliminal speed, the amygdala activates."
In other words, whether our skins are pinkish-beige or brownish, Homo sapiens innately label a face as "Us" or "Them" before we even consciously recognize that we have seen a face.
To continue (on page 86):
"Our attunement to race is shown in another way, too. Show a video of someone's hand being poked with a needle, and subjects have an 'isomorphic sensorimoter' response -- hands tense in empathy. Among both whites and blacks, the response is blunted for other-race hands; the more the implicit racism [as determined by tests of race bias], the more blunting."
Neurology is not destiny, however. Sapolsky later notes that neuro-imaging shows that once the consciousness recognizes that it has seen a face, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) can moderate the activity of the amygdala (and the fusiform face area, which is also involved in face recognition). Essentially, the PFC can "outvote" that initial "Us-or-Them" response, turning a Them into an Us.
It's shown in the commonsense observation that to a racist, "all Pakis are rotten, well, except the kebab guy on the corner, who is a good chap". It's individuation: a particular Them is turned into an Us when he or she becomes an individual who is not just "pretty much like Us" but actually is "an Us".
How that feels: I'm pinkish-beige, and I live in an overwhelmingly pinkish community. I was in a convenience store waiting for a friend to show up. There was a dark-brown man kind of uneasily wandering around looking at things. Shoplifter? Vagrant looking to score? -- to my eternal discredit, I was suspicious. Then I remembered seeing a young brownish-beige kid go into the restroom earlier. Oh! The guy is a father, and he's probably wondering if he should go and help his son, or whether it's time to let the child handle whatever is keeping him in the restroom. That fast, the man became an Us. (We ended up having a pleasant conversation about the trip his family was taking, and various other topics. And his 5-year-old finally came out of the restroom and everything was fine.)
Perhaps, and this is my own speculation, people who have very low indices of racism have internalized this mental behavior. They habitually bring their PFC to overrule the innate "Us-or-Them" reaction, and immediately individuate almost everyone as an Us. But I dunno; I ain't no neuropsychologist.
Sapolsky's book is damned good, IMHO. Much food for deep thought.