Archive for the ‘bigotry’ Category

Conflicted

September 23, 2011

After we left our church, we decided to visit another nearby church. Our attention had been caught by banners proclaiming that the church was in the middle of a series on poverty, so we took our social-justice selves and bruised egos on in through the door.

The service was…eh. The music was painful, and the well-meaning sermon was somewhat lacking in a call to thought or action. But the people were friendly. Even if there was a dearth of young families, no one seemed to mind my daughter’s wiggles.

A few days later, we received a letter in the mail. The new church was hosting something of a prospective member brunch, and we were invited by name.

At this point, I must admit, I was struggling. And grieving. Despite the fact that we had spent more than two years at our old church, despite the fact that I had been in the choir, despite the fact that one of my business partners was a member, despite the fact that it had felt like home…not one single person had called to talk to us. Not my business partner. Not a fellow choir member. Not the head of the children’s ministry.

It was as if we had never been there. As if no one even noticed that we were gone.

I was crushed.

But part of me still wanted to go back.

Why? Michael asked. Why do you want to go back, after how they treated us? When here we have a letter inviting us BY NAME to return to a new church? Why?

The answer, of course, is complicated.

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Kids and race

May 19, 2010

So I just read this:

Kids’ test answers on race brings mother to tears

Here’s what I think:

My extended family is multiracial, and I didn’t have a clear conception of “race” until I was at least nine or ten. We didn’t really talk about race, so I thought that those relatives who are not white were just…like that. Their skin color was a part of them, and I didn’t associate it with another, larger group of people. I only associated it with them.

I think the main reason that kids have responses like those in the study is because most people associate with people who look like them. Most white people hang out with white people. Black people gravitate toward black people. (Yes, these are generalizations. Bear with me.) So kids don’t usually KNOW people with skin color different from their own, and people naturally fear that which is unknown and different. It isn’t that kids are necessarily racist (although some do inherit biases), but that they differentiate between what is familiar and unfamiliar.

That being said, there is the contingent of black kids who associated positive values with white people. I think this, too, relates to what they know. Barack Obama notwithstanding, there are not a lot of positive black role models. At two different schools I know, minority kids make up most of the student body, but most of the staff is white. And black people as a group are still dealing with a racial self-esteem issue that goes back to slavery.

What I’m getting at is this: if you’re worried that your five-year-old has a racial bias, don’t try to talk to them about race relations. They won’t understand a word of it. Instead, broaden your circle. Get to know people who are different from you, and let your child do the same. SHOW your child that each person is himself or herself, and differences in hue don’t mean a thing.

Actions speak louder than words, right?