I haven’t done a post with this title yet? Good. Because today, it just fits.
If you’ve been hanging out on the internet lately, you may have noticed that there appears to be a significant segment of the U.S. population that still, consciously or unconsciously, supports racism. You don’t even have to read a Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman story to see it. You could take a look at the people who think that Marc Anthony (a born-in-the-USA American citizen of Puerto Rican descent) is not fit to sing “God Bless America” at a sporting event.
It’s horrible. And it’s not always that overt. Sometimes it’s just, as President Obama described, being followed in a department store, or crossing the street and hearing car door locks snap down, or seeing a white woman become nervous because you’re there.
But why are people still acting this way in 2013? They had to learn it somewhere, and I would guess that in most cases it begins with the parents or other primary caregivers. And I would guess that this is true about other forms of bigotry as well: religious bigotry, homophobia, and sexism for instance. And about violence — bullying, gun violence, gang violence, violence against women, even, perhaps, war.
So, parents and other adults, if we want things to change, it’s at least partly up to us. We have to be the ones to teach our children that bigotry and violence are wrong. We have to tell them, and model for them as best we can, that people are people no matter what color they are, and no matter what language they speak. We must teach them that it’s not OK to shoot or beat up other people, and that it’s not cool or funny to rape.
We also have to admit that we are not perfect at this. I know I am not. I sometimes react to people who look different, even if I keep that reaction inside. I’m not proud of it. I want to do better, and I want my children to do better. That’s something the President addressed, too — he said that Malia and Sasha and their friends are much better at not being racist than we are. I think my kids probably are, too. But what about the rest of the country? Obviously there are families and places where kids simply aren’t learning these things. Will it just take longer there? Maybe.
But you, the one reading this. I know you’re probably more likely to agree with me anyway, but let’s do what we can! If you haven’t directly talked with your kids about bigotry and violence, do it! Make sure they know that this is not the way to live. And then live the example with them.