Maggie B. says:

I was shocked and appalled when I saw these posters hanging above the children’s shoe section in a FootAction store in Jensen Beach, FL this weekend.

In her book, Bad Boys, Ann Ferguson argues that while white boys are seen as naturally and innocently naughty, black boys are seen as willfully bad.  This is possible because teachers attribute adult motivations to black, but not white, children.  Ferguson calls this adultification.   Essentially this means that many teachers and other school authorities see black boys as “criminals” instead of kids.  And black girls–also adultified, but differently–are seen as dangerously sexual.  Adults, of course, are held 100% responsible for their behavior.  There is no leeway here, no second chances, and no benefit of the doubt.

These pictures do more than just sexualize the young children pictured (who appear to be black and mixed-race), they also adultify them with their expressions, postures, fashion, and implied contexts.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.