I feel the need to revisit the subject of racism; probably not for the last time. There was recently a news article about a little (white) boy who got his hair cut and was delightedly anticipating the confusion it would cause his teacher because she would no longer be able to tell him and his best friend (little black boy) apart. This was an extremely cute story and would have translated nicely if it were about matching outfits, etc and honestly, I believe it would have been heart-warming in any context.
Shortly thereafter, however, another story appeared in the news. It involved a two year old white girl responding to a cashier’s comment that the black doll she was buying did not look like her. Apparently the girl said that, yes she did look like her because they were both pretty and both doctors, as evidenced by the stethoscope on the doll. I may be more of a skeptic than some but it seemed a bit contrived and most likely paraphrased by the mother, who took this story to the news.
Here is the problem I see with this scenario: While I do believe that mother was good intentioned, it sounded scripted and a bit like it is generous for a white ( superior?) child to be so accepting of a black( inferior?) doll. I absolutely do not think this mother meant it as such but it begs to be misinterpreted. I hear time and again that we should teach our children to not see colour but I think that is ridiculous! All children should be taught to be observant and aware of everything around them. Differences in colour ( or religion, gender or anything else, really) are not something to be ignored or missed but to be embraced! I have a problem with words like ‘tolerance and acceptance’. We ‘tolerate’ a headache until it passes, the long winters that seem to never end or bad luck when it finds us. We ‘accept’ the fact that Monday follows quickly on the heels of much anticipated weekends or that we have to have rain to get flowers and vegetables, etc. We ‘tolerate’ rudeness and arrogance ( gritting our teeth) but we do not ‘tolerate’ people! We love and celebrate differences and similarities in each other!
Maybe I’m not the best person to preach this since I always say that I am a lousy witness. I can’t tell you if the man I just passed on the sidewalk had a moustache or glasses but others certainly and it would then make no sense if they didn’t notice what colour he was! My own children have differences in appearance. Two have very blue eyes and one has very brown eyes. Two were blond and the other very dark haired. I fail to see how skin colour is anything but appearance related. I know we live in a world that is not fair and black skinned people (and certainly others) have injustices heaped upon them even at this time in history. I can only imagine what future generations will think about the utter stupidity of their ancestors but society will never get there by keeping racism alive. I don’t know what it is going to take but there is much that can be done by ‘priviledged white’ and just as much by ‘ oppressed black’ persons.
Each generation is better than the last and there may always be backwards jerks who think that their skin colour offers them superiority or marterdom but they must not be given a voice! Should we live in an ideal world, right now, where everyone is treated with equal respect and dignity? Hell,yes!! Do we, though? No, but we are getting closer and if we stopped giving a voice to all the racists I believe we could get there a little faster.