Monday, April 17, 2006

One great virtue...

I remember watching a mother trying to mainstream her physically disabled 4 year old child. Acknowledging her efforts, I thought I'd take the opportunity to grab my 3 year old daughter and place them together to play. My daughter got one look of the other child and started screaming when she saw that the girl was missing ears and had visible shunts implanted into her scalp. The sight of my SCREAMING 3 YEAR OLD was not pretty--in fact my "good intentions" left me with the feeling of emberassment!

As the childhood years are going by, I've placed great emphasis in doing a better job of teaching awareness and tolerance to other races and differences among humans.

The use of stereotypes often leads to misunderstanding and hurt feelings, because they may be either untrue generalizations, truthful but unflattering generalizations, or truthful generalizations about a group which are untrue of any given member of a group. Bias is a human condition, and American history is rife with prejudice against groups and individuals because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or other differences.

Bias is learned in childhood. By age 3, children can be aware of racial differences and may have the perception that "white" is desirable. By age 12, they can hold stereotypes about ethnic, racial and religious groups. Because stereotypes underlie hate, and because almost half of all hate crimes are committed by young men under 20, tolerance education is critical.

One (OF THE MANY) things I love about my boyfriend is that he has done a great job of promoting diversity in my family. We stand together (and strong!) on this topic. He took the children to eat Indian food for the first time last weekend. Oh, bestow my heart!!! (It also helps that he is from another country, and from another species--part ape!).
We can promote diversity by letting children tell stories about their families, however different they may be. Diversity embraces not just race, but age, religion, marital status and personal ability.


At 4:18 PM, Blogger Doctor Marco said...

Intolerance is deep inside human nature. It has to do with being more accepting of what is "similar". This was described brilliantly by Richard Dawkins in Selfish Gene. The best way to prevent intolerance is to acknowledge our nature and keep educating until our genetic rulers are subdued.

At 4:38 AM, Blogger mandora said...

I'm always cautious about this statement - that racism is genetic. That can lead to a lot of bad things, when the guy in the KKK says 'well, I couldn't help it... my genes made me do it!' How do we prosecute someone who was only doing the 'natural' thing?

At 5:47 AM, Blogger Alanita said...

We live in a world with many genetic combinations, but I must disagree that genes are responsible. This is a fallacy! There is no such thing as "genetic racism". Racism is a product of environment.

I think we should ask Dr. Marco what he's talking about, don't you???

At 7:03 AM, Anonymous rexmoon said...

is this like blogger envy?
Never mind.
Hey, Lan. My kids are a beautiful blend of at least three different ethnicities. I'm wondering if the best way to to defeat intolerance is to all blend together.

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Holy Shit Rob! said...

Everyone's a little bit racist, sometimes. (It's a song, sorry.)

I also disagree, it's not genetics, it's definitely a learned/"inherited" trait. I'll admit, I make racist jokes sometimes, but I am not shy to include everyone in it. I'm just as quick to jump on a dumb white guy as I am any other race. We should all be able to celebrate AND make fun of our differences. They should not be aimed to hurt, but I see nothing wrong with joking around with stereotypes.

Re: Your boyfriend. I think it's great that he helps promote diversity in your family. I try to do the same in mine. Take them to cultural events, cook other types of food for them, talk about other cultures, etc.



At 7:10 AM, Blogger Alanita said...

Rexmoon--yes, I think maybe this is a tinge of blogger-envy. You are always right on the money. A real sharp shooter you are!
I think "blending" is beautiful (I'm a half-breed after all!! How can I hate myself?). You are right. This melting pot of a society is just one way to beat the prejudices that we know today.

At 7:12 AM, Blogger Alanita said...

That's why we are such good pals, Cat! We have the same ideas in jokes (me included!!) and I think it's cool you teach your children the great virtue of tolerance through culturally diverse experiences. You da bomb.

At 7:24 AM, Blogger melissa said...

Hey Girl! I posted my comment to this on your other blog but wanted to stop in and say "Hi"!

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Alanita said...

Thanks, Melissa!! How's the world of modeling today? FYI--Melissa is a totally gorgeous model with beautiful, naturally curly hair! :)

At 7:47 AM, Anonymous Packfan/Patrick said...

I must not have listened to my parents too much! I think that all their INtolerance was lost at my generation... myself, and my brother and my sister.

Thank goodness...

One of the best things I ever did, and most educational (on many levels) was to take a trip to India two years ago. I learned so much about the world on that trip. I learned much about myself too!

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Richard said...

Clearly racism can be influenced / reinforced by environment. However, there is some truth to the fact that we look for a degree of sameness.

My daughter exhibited a preference for me or my wife, or people who were phenotypically similar to my wife (black hair, tanned skin, dark eyes). It was interesting to watch her gravitate towards the Filipinas at church, but shy away from people of European and African descent.

I can assure you this was not a taught behaviour, since our circle of friends is quite ethnically diverse.

Symmetry and proportion are also characteristics we select for.

It may not be fair, and it pains me to see discrimmination. It is something that definitely requires effort on the part of individuals to overcome.

At 11:04 AM, Blogger Doctor Marco said...


I know, it is hard. In an educated world we have to fight for standards, we have to fight our own nature. The educated does not accept being controlled by his or her impulses

What do you feel when a woman says:
"I am sorry, you have to understand, I was in one of those days..."

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Doctor Marco said...


Why are you kinder with your family than with the stranger?

Why do you look for a pattern of beauty or intelligence in your mate?

Why is people naturally more receptive to their similars?

The core is genetic, the environment modifies it, that is the greatness of education.

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peaking my head in!! I guess that makes me a "true friend" now?? LOL



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