Friday, August 16, 2019

It Starts Early in Life

These days we talk a lot about prejudice.  It is an ugly wound in our history which has been reopened by the current POTUS and his adminstration.  And when we hear such hateful and hurtful rhetoric from our "leaders" we realize just how deep the wound is and how superficial the healing has been.

Children are born without prejudice.  It has been proven time and again that prejudice is a learned behavior.  And it is often learned when there is limited exposure to different types of people.  When I was in elementary school, the nearest people we had from other cultures were the very few Catholics, Yankees whose fathers moved to the South to manage a plant that located in our little town.  They went to the library during our weekly religion (read that Protestant) guest speakers.  When you were a child, how many people of other races and cultures were represented in your story books?  I can recall only two books about different races when I was a small child.  One was LITTLE BLACK SAMBO, and the other was THE FIVE CHINESE BROTHERS.  I admit that I loved both of those stories although they clearly stereotype the cultures and I would not want Violet to have them.  Oh, and I almost forgot Uncle Remus and his fables, the most famous being Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby.  Not good examples of the culture either.  Again, I loved them but would not want them for my granddaughter until she is at least a teenager.

I was absolutely delighted when Aunt Kathryn gave my little children a lovely book called OH, WHAT A BUSY DAY!  The illustrations by Gyo Fujikawa were enchanting and included children of different races and ethnic groups all playing together.  New Yorker Magazine recently did a lovely article that you might find interesting.  (Click here.)  The book, originally published in 1976 is still in print.  It's filled with short verses and is fun for children and adults alike.  I can highly recommend it.

Picture from the Internet
Violet now has our copy

Our Violet does have busy days.  She enjoys all sorts of creative play both indoors and out.  She is already loving dress-up and pretend.

Last week I posted a picture of her in a Darth Vader shirt.  Today I will show you the real Darth Violet, ready to take on anything with her light saber.  (Yes, she plays villians as well as heroes.)

 First you get the light saber at the ready

Then you get your frightening face to scare the opponent

And who is the opponent?  The same sweet giant giraffe Violet was hugging last week.  If you are Darth Violet you must take on the biggest opponent you can find.
A fierce attack

I love that Violet is exposed to children and adults of all races, cultures, and lifestyles.  No distinction is made among them.  She is too young to recognize stereotypes but her parents will guide her to dismiss them when she is old enough to understand.  I do believe Violet will grow up to be as accepting of others as one can be.  Her parents are exceptional role models.

I often wonder (and fear) just how the children of the supporters of the too-often heard hate speech will fare in tomorrow's world?  Will they become the minority?  Will they grow up and recognize how wrong their parents were?  Or will they grow up bitter and angry?  Time will tell.

The first quote of the week is from one of my heroes, Ruth Bader Gingsburg:
"America is known as a country that welcomes people to its shores.  All kinds of people.  The image of the Statue of Liberty with Emma Lazarus's famous poem.  She lifts her lamp and welcomes people to the golden shore where they will not experience prejudice because of the color of their skin or the religious faith they follow."
(PERSONAL NOTE:  Take THAT, Ken Cuccinelli!)

The next is from the late (and still missed) Molly Ivins:
"Old-fashioned anti-immigrant prejudice always brings out some old-fashioned racists."

And from the late (and still missed) Maya Angelou:
"Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible."

Is there hope for our Nation?  I do think there is.  For our sakes, but mostly for the sake of dear innocent Violet and all other children who will inherit the world we leave behind.





Barbara Rogers said...

It's not easy to help confront stereotypes being taught to children by those who learned them from their parents. Case in point: I was called "Honey" not once, but twice, in a MacD's drive-through. The second time I just said "I don't like to be called Honey." And that was all I could do. The young man didn't answer. So many southern men (and women) think that giving someone that term has been a way to offer respect. Unfortunately. In my life, only my parents used that term when referring to each other, so it was a term of endearment (usually.) To have a teen boy call a 76 year old woman "Honey" really was inappropriate on so many levels.

The Bug said...

My grandmother rented her old beauty shop to a recently divorced (!) Catholic (!) woman and her son. He had red hair & was named Colt, so he had about a billion strikes against him. I wonder what ever happened to them? That was my only exposure to the "evil idolaters" until I was an adult.

Darth Violet is just Too Much.

Nance said...

As I said before, Violet is about the coolest person I have come to know.

The younger generations I know and am generally exposed to are far and away less judgmental, biased, and intolerant than so many Boomers and older. As Barbara Rogers, above, said, it's a matter of how one was raised. I was raised to be open and accepting, much like Violet.

A fact for which I am eternally grateful.

Anonymous said...

When I was growing up, until I was eight years old, my family lived in a city of multi-ethnic multi racial people. My neighborhood and classrooms were utterly diverse. Then in 1960 we moved to the suburbs and it was very, very white. I was surprised by that. I never forgot the diversity I had grown accustomed to. I think it is so important for us to know we are merely one species on our one and only planet. We have lots of different ideas and opinions, but we are all human beings. I'm glad there are children's books that embrace that and teach.

Arkansas Patti said...

Love Violets game face. She is an actress all ready. That book is a treasure.
I think we should have hope for our youth. There are more of us than them and if we breed equally, we will keep them a minority and possibly exposure will win some over.
I think the taught can unlearn. I was taught that whites were superior to any other color. My parents were never mean nor cruel but they considered the "others" as being quite a bit lesser and we were not to associate with them. I had an experience in the 3rd grade that made me go against my parents and to become a bit of a thorn in their side for the rest of their days. Loved but still a thorn.

Vicki Lane said...

Wonderful photos! She makes a great Darth Vader. I like your suggestions for books. I've been impressed with the Highlights magazine I get for Josie. Children of every ethnicity pictured, a little lesson in Spanish in every issue. Living where we do, there's not a lot of diversity so I welcome any means of letting her see that friends come in all colors.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Barbara - I am so with you on that. But the one I REALLY detest is "young lady."

Bug - I can so appreciate that. I'm not sure whose relatives were more upset at our wedding. Mine because I was married in a Catholic Church or his because we could not have a mass because I did not convert.

Nance - I totally agree. Each generation seems to be more tolerant of others. My own children never gave a second thought about having gay friends or black friends. It's sad that Trump has allowed the rednecks and boomers to spew hatred and bring forth old prejudices once again into the limelight.

Robin - That must have been quite a shock. I lived in the country and attended a small school where everyone was the same. When I started fifth grade, we moved to a college town and I was exposed to all sorts of different people. It was indeed surprising.

Patti - I agree. My own parents and most relatives were prejudiced against blacks and very upset by the civil rights marches. Marches I joined as soon as I started college.

Vicki - I had almost forgotten about Highlights. I think we should definitely get that for Violet even if she does meet a lot of diverse people.