Being a parent is more than some realize, and it truly is more than most take seriously. There are those that believe, honestly understand in their own mind, that if they provide shelter, clothing, food, and the child doesn't grow up to be a serial killer, well, they have done their job, and deserve a big pat on the back. The responsibilities of parenting can be daunting to some, and overwhelming at times, but building a house of cards is easy, and the results gain just as much stability. Build a house of bricks, and metal, and concrete, and have a firm, solid foundation, with plans, sketches, measurements, etc, and you get a much different result. One that will stand for many years, some for hundreds of years. The effort you put in, determines the results you will receive.
No parent has done their job with absolute perfection, and anyone that claims such is delusional. Having a child is a monumental responsibility, and one fact always seems to escape the minds of so many, and that is you are bringing up a future adult, a person that will be part of this world, and if you choose to take the easy way out, leaving your child to be taught by Xbox, television, babysitters, social media, cell phones, and their own devices, well, you have no right to complain about the results. Never more as this been so apparent in our society as it has recently. People are desensitized, cruel, cold, relentless in their desperate needs for attention, popularity, adoration, maybe even those 15 minutes of fame. Being dismissive, judgmental, callous and "brutally honest" seems to be not only acceptable, but encouraged. Often, the acts that are offensive are quickly followed with excuses, which are just as awful, when you really begin to think about it. "I was drunk", "I had a poor childhood", "I was brought up during a different time", "I have friends that are black", (or Gay, or of different faiths, whichever fits at the time)"Everyone else does it". All bullshit answers meant to detour from the truth, which is that the action, words or behavior is recognized as wrong, but.......
One thing that my parents did right for myself and my brothers, was they never taught us any form of racism at all. It never occurred to me growing up that there was any difference in my friends in their race, or their religion, or their wealth. My parents had friends of all races, all genders, backgrounds, etc, and I am quite sure that had much to do with being a military family, and I really don't care. The point is, they got this one thing right. People were just people, and I definitely grew up with this strong belief. As I got older, and became aware that some didn't feel this way, I became very aware of who I chose to surround myself with. I never cared to be in the "popular" crowd, and I was also targeted for my choices. I dated guys that I liked, and have often explained that when it came to my preferences in men, I was "an equal opportunity" type of girl. White, black, hispanic, phillipino, poor family, well off family, great family, screwed up family, it wasn't what I put as a priority when I would hang out with anyone. This of course, led to me marrying out of my own ethnic group, I guess you would say, and having 3 kids that are the most gorgeous and beautiful creatures on this planet. (Don't even attempt to argue with me on this point....my kids are beautiful, for tons of reasons, so there.) :-)
I made a very conscious, very determined effort from the time they were born to make it very clear, and extremely important that my children understood that prejudice, racism, hatred of those that are different, would not be tolerated. Living with their father, my biggest battle was teaching them that the use of a disgusting word, one that he used in their presence often, was not acceptable, not allowed, and not tolerated. Stopping their father was a battle I couldn't win, but I didn't raise him, and he knew of my hatred for the word, and actually, would not say it in front of me. Slipping at times, the reaction of his friends, or of he himself, was enough to realize that I made a slight amount of progress, but the true priority was that my kids knew, and that they would not partake in the use of the word. I don't, and never have used it, and even though some people who date a black person, or have friends that use the word, or those idiots that have now convinced themselves that it is okay, and cool, to use it, I still refuse to utter the word itself. To me, a person that uses the word, helps to keep its ugliness alive, and I don't want any part of that.
"Be the change that you want to see in the world."
The change I wanted to see in this world is that my children would grow up and not ever think about what color their skin is, what box they "have" to choose when filling out an application, what music they are "supposed" to listen to or enjoy, or that they are defined by their DNA and the pigments in their skin, but they are not defined at all. I wanted, more than anything, for them to grow up and know that they were free to be who they wanted, enjoy life to the fullest, and celebrate their eclectic heritage knowing they are the best of so many. They are the beautiful melting pot of different countries, different races, different ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and they will define their own lives, no one else.
Bringing up children to understand that they are individuals, and never should be confined to any "label" or "stereotype" is exactly what I wanted to do. If I had any affect on them at all, I wanted, more than anything, to instill in them the confidence to ignore labels, ignore pressure to "belong", to stand out, to take risks, to find out what it is that interests them. Their beliefs are theirs. Their lives are their own to live. Then, they too, might one day decide to have children, and hopefully, they pass along this belief.
You see, negative words, negative beliefs, hatred and fear of what we don't understand, can all go away. It really can. Just sitting by and saying, "well that is how it is" is a pathetic excuse for not trying. So many people spend so much time and effort and so much money.....ugh, disgusting amounts of money, trying to be accepted. These same people will discriminate against another, without one thought of the hypocrisy that they are living. You don't want anyone bashing on your religion? Then don't judge and discriminate on others. You don't want anyone judging you by your race? Then don't judge others by theirs, and don't use negative words in regards to race, not even your own. You are a hypocrite if you do. You don't want anyone telling you who you can marry, who you can love? Don't spend so much time trying to stop others, trying to enforce beliefs into law for ignorant assumptions. If you were plain in school, and now you have money to buy clothes, and surgery, and so many nice things, don't forget that you once were the one being bullied, and now take a long look in the mirror. You are judging people that are just LIKE YOU, just in a different time.
Everyone is all in an uproar that a television personality was fired today from a cable network. Specifics are not being released as of yet, but some clear facts have surfaced, and this brought me to writing this today. It is not "endearing" for anyone to use racial slurs. It is not "funny" to suggest that degrading employees by dressing them up as slaves during the Civil War was a harmless idea, and thought to be a "cute" idea for a wedding reception. Tormenting a childhood playmate, who was of another race, then making light of it in a book, with the paraphrase, "I don't know why I thought it was funny, but I did it, and was punished." and forgetting to mention that your parents had the babysitter arrested and jailed because you physically attacked her daughter, but she was black, so, of course, being in Georgia, they had HER arrested. Casually testifying in a lawsuit deposition, in which you are being sued for racism, harassment, creating a hostile work environment, and saying that your use of the "N" word was alright because, well, honestly, the excuses are all bullshit. People grow up, and that is why it is pathetic, and this person deserves to be fired. This isn't 1897 anymore. Working with peers of all races, there is no way that you didn't know or weren't aware that you were being offensive. No, you are not fooling anyone. You are only attempting to apologize because you are being sued, and you want to hold on to all that money.
"Be the change that you want to see in the world."
Until people start taking responsibility and start making changes, this society will not evolve. Do not get upset when another uses a word that is derogatory to you if you use that word yourself. Do not thrash others beliefs if you are immediately on the defense if anyone does the same to you. Hypocrisy seems to be a common thread that is all to familiar now, and it too, needs to fade away.
Parents, please take time to teach your children. Tolerance and acceptance will be needed in their own lives at some point or time. How can they receive it if they never allow themselves to give it back?