Sunday, January 29, 2012

Are We Teaching Hate?

My daughter Jenny has a blog, the Jenny Life. It is good. She is creating a phenomenal history for her children as most of the articles include pictures and a description of activities the family has participated in. I cannot imagine the value to those kids in 20 or 25 years. From time to time she posts an article that gets me thinking, probably far more or deeper than I should. A recent article is titled the exact title of this blog, Are We Teaching Hate? The gist of Jenny's blog is she was concerned that a book that her daughter brought home about MLK might awaken in her mind the fact that Blacks look different than White, Latinos or Asians. There were pictures from the civil rights era showing dogs attacking civil rights marchers, water cannons being turned on protesters and other pictures showing the tenor of the times. I believe Jenny believes that her children don't see Black, Brown, or Yellow. I do not know if and/or when children notice we are different one from another. I never had the opportunity. I grew up in a small town in northern Michigan, we had no TV, at least not until I was twelve years old. News of the world was simply not known to me. So I was naive.

As I moved on I learned. I spent the better part of Friday evenings at college talking with a black librarian named Mr. Scott who took the time to talk about the similarities in our families, black and white not the differences. He told me of the social culture of blacks and that in many ways it was learned just as white people learn their social culture.

I took part in college wide discussions and programs on civil rights and the right of equality. Nigger was a word I thought of from time to time, but it did not come out of my mouth. It is kind of like we learn all those words we associate with prejudice, stereotypes and hate, Kike, Mick, Wop, Dago, Spic, Chink, Zipperhead, Slant eyed, Jap, and on. Dustin Hoffman in a 1974 film titled :Lenny" played Lenny Bruce, the idol of none other than Richard Pryor. In one scene Lenny is playing in a smoke filled club and starts saying, "Are there any Kikes in here, any Niggers, how about some Wops or Mick. Any Spic's." He zeroes in on a black man and his date sitting at a table, and he says again, "How about some Niggers, you a Nigger there?" The Black man is infuriated, humiliated and about ready to pounce when all of a sudden Lenny says, "I wish we would use these words and make them part of our everyday vocabulary so they become acceptable. Perhaps then a black child might not run home from school crying because she was called one of those terrible names."

Point made, point taken.

We all have prejudices. We all have stereotypes. They are taught us by being around our parents, our community, our teachers, and those we grow up with. Do we teach hate, We can.. We can teach it in our homes, we can teach it in our schools, we can teach it in our churches, and we display it in our actions. I think prejudices, stereotypes and differences between people need to be discussed and talked about. I think we need to emphasize that we are truly equal, I can use any other human blood in my body for a transfusion. Race plays no part in that. We can fall in love with people from different races. We owe it to ourselves to understand our prejudices and stereotypes so that when we come up against one we can make a choice. For if we make a decision about a person based on race, color, creed, religion, etc., without thought we fall victim to our prejudices and stereotypes and deny ourselves the opportunity to have a wonderful human experience.

Values are learned close to home and at a young age. Our values change over the years as we grow and mature, but our beginnings are right in front of us.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad that my post got you thinking. I love your closing line. Yes, values are taught close to home, at an early age. I hope we're doing right by our kids.