Saturday, November 20, 2010

Born Racist?

"This whole thing is so ugly. Have you any idea what it's like to live with all this? People look at us and only see bigots and racists. Hatred isn't something you're born with. It gets taught. At school, they said segregation what's said in the Bible... Genesis 9, Verse 27. At 7 years of age, you get told it enough times, you believe it. You believe the hatred. You live it... you breathe it. You marry it." ~ Mrs. Pell from the movie Mississippi Burning.

You get told it enough times, you believe it.

I stared at the picture to the right for quite a while this morning. It captures so much. It challenges me as a parent.

I have written before about how I do not want to indoctrinate my children. However, as much as I try to present views outside my own, my kids reflect me in many ways.  They will learn my good, but they will learn my bad as well. The catch is, we do not tend to see our own bad traits.

Racists do not know that they are racists. Bigots do not know that they are bigots. I know a few; they say a lot of racist things, but would get offended if they were called a racist.

Kids parrot the phrases and statements made by their parents. The students who went into their high school a few weeks ago wearing shirts stating that homosexuals are "an abomination and shall surely be put to DEATH!" were not speaking their minds, they were reflecting their parents and the circles in which they travel. The boy in the picture did not come up with the idea that the president is a monkey, he is expressing the view of his parents.

You get told it enough times, you believe it.

These little girls do not hate homosexuals... they don't really even "get" sexuality yet; but they are being taught to despise. They hear a regular mantra about homosexuals with agendas to destroy the family, tear-down Christianity, corrupt our schools....

You get told it enough times, you believe it.

I grieve for these kids who will go into adulthood and have to spend years undoing the bad messages that have been drilled into their heads. I grieve more for those who will never question the messages and will pass them on to the next generation.


C. L. Hanson said...

Re: It challenges me as a parent.

So true! You can't see your own biases, so how do you know you're not indoctrinating? This is my solution:

Don't isolate them. Don't try to protect them from information. Send them to school and (occasionally) to the houses of friends where the rules and expectations are a little different. Make sure they understand from an early age that "the way my parents do things" is not the only way. That helps build up their ability to think for themselves.

Bob said...

My parents, rest their souls, were both racists. They had been raised that way and they raised me that way. My mother began to "get it" and change some a few years before she died. After my dad died, his neighbor, an African-American man, told me that "we had just started to bond." So there were signs of progress, but those beliefs ran deep.

Until I was about 12 years old I believed that their views were normal, right and moral. Praise God, I broke the cycle. I challenged their beliefs. We had some heated conversations but I got to the point where I could not stand by and listen anymore.

Don said...

"My parents, rest their souls, were both racists. They had been raised that way and they raised me that way."

Absolutely Bob! I can fully identify with your statement, having been raised in the fifties in the deep South.

Great post Andy.

Jon said...

So true. My parents were also quite racist, especially my dad - not rabid but with fairly strong opinions. From early in life I decided for myself that was wrong (and they did teach me to think for myself, for which I'm very grateful).

I now spend quite a lot of time with Aboriginal Australians and I like to think I'm not racist but I still catch myself out in racism at times. If I'm thinking about it I don't, but the ingrained habits come out occasionally when I react on the spur of the moment.

Debby said...

I would like to give you hope. I was raised in a bigoted home, and I heard much of what you spoke of today. Worse, even. (My father used to say that his Cadillac trunk would hold a lot of dead n******.) I just want to tell you that when I was 10 years old, I was at my grandparent's house as they played cards in the kitchen late at night. I took a Reader's Digest condensed book, "Kaffir Boy" from their bookshelf. I was 12 years old and it changed my thinking forever.

We all have an obligation to talk, to tell our story, to say our opinions. They are God-given, and they can make a powerful difference. Write on.

C.L. Hanson is right. Don't isolate your children. The truth is the truth, and it cannot be changed. Let them see the truth with their own eyes. Talk to them about what they see and what they think. Encourage them to think freely. They'll be fine.

Virgil said...

Wow what a great post! Loved it!

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