WE SHOULD KNOW BETTER
No, I'm not talking about the primary or the results. Hell, I'm already tired, and it's just getting through New Hampshire. Barack Obama has already been somewhat slung under a bus and the MSM craps their pants because Hillary Clinton came back from the dead like Lazarus.
But, that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about how those of us of ethnic background should know better to engage in racist or bigoted acts against people who don't look like us. The white guy isn't always out to get people of color - even though George Bush has succeeded in making it look so.
I want to share a little story, and then I'm cross posting a blog entry I read over at the Pesky Fly's place.
Last January, I went to Memphis to attend the Media Reform Conference. While there, I finally got a chance to meet the guys I blog with over at the Pesky Fly: you might know them as Pesky (of course) Autoegocrat, Jeff and Kibbiter. You may have even seen my screen name on the masthead, so I'm one of the bloggers, too.
Anyway, Pesky invites me and my colleague, Bruce Dixon, over to his house to break bread (actually smacking up some live ribs from a place called the Kozy Corner). While visiting, his two adorable little girls, were constantly vying for my attention and crawling into my lap to talk to me, or cuddle with me. Someone they just met, but because I was Daddy's colleague, they automatically considered me a friend. What pleased me was that these little girls are far advanced in their ability to interface with people of all ethncities and races, because that's how they were reared.
We African-Americans may think we're bringing up our children in similar fashion, but the following entry on the Fly's blog shamed me, and let me know, we're not there yet, and we can't demand that we be treated as equal to whites, if we're not going to return the demand:
We know we can use the excuse of our past treatment by whites to justify, but it doesn't make it right. In fact, those who fought the good fight in Civil Rights, constantly warned those who were coming after them, not to allow our anger to cause us to sin (translation: OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD).
Together We Learn to Read and WriteThis morning while brushing our teeth and taking our Flintstone's one of the twins broke my heart. Although she said she was glad her holiday break was over, and she was excited about returning to kindergarden, something was weighing heavily on her mind. She told me there was a girl she wanted to be friends with but the girl wouldn't "be her friend back." You know, typical kid stuff, right? "I can't play with her because my skin's not brown," she said. The twins have grown up in an overwhelmingly brown skinned neighborhood. Their first Santa had gold teeth and many of their daycare teachers and most of their playmates have been African American. Until now, to my great delight, they thought living and playing with people who look different was perfectly normal. "Somebody needs to tell her daddy," my daughter said. "Then he could tell her a person's skin doesn't matter." Well, what can a parent do but tell the truth? I told her that nobody's born worrying about skin color. "It's something you have to learn," I said. "And she probably learned to act that way from her parents." Big brown eyes that look like smaller versions of my own welled up with tears. "That doesn't make sense," she wailed. And given her experience, how could it? "Don't let it get you down," I said, hugging her as tightly as I could. "You just keep on being her friend even if she won't be yours." "Will it ever change," she asked. "Maybe not," I said, unable to lie. "But let's hope." She cried until my shoulder was soaked. Not because she doesn't have plenty of friends at school, she does. But because she just couldn't wrap her sweet little head around something so totally foreign; so completely illogical.
So, why, in the 21st Century, we still hear of incidents of bigotry being taught by Black parents to their children? It makes us no better than any other ethnicity whose members are teaching their children how to feed from the poisionous well of hate and bigotry that we, as well as our forefathers, fought to eliminate. If you don't want your child coming home and sharing a similar story like Pesky's daughter did, you still have work to do to make sure your child is being raised in a way that makes you proud.
We could blow this off and say that's the dynamics of Memphis, Tennessee, but that would be too easy. The hard work is learning to facilitate and teach, love, tolerance and respect based on the content of character, as opposed to the physicalities of race.
Today, a little girl learned her first lesson about racism and bigotry, and it was not taught by her White parents; it was taught to her by her classmate, a little African-American girl, who was taught to shun white children by her African-American parents.
That's a shaming and damning way to begin 2008, especially since an African-American is making history by wininng a Presidential caucus and knocking out the pre-determined front runner for the job. If we can't set the example for tolerance and respect, at least, we should not contribute to the problem by being the problem.