Browsing my favorite time waster(thanks Reddit!) the other day I came upon a sentiment that made me hunker down and think about the race issue in America. The comment was that the 7 year olds of this country have never known a white president. For everyone else, President Obama was a trailblazer in how we measure the debate of “how far we’ve come.” Sadly, despite our election, the actions of this country have proven that we are still demoralizingly behind in issues of race, gender equality, LGTBQ issues, education, and oh, I don’t want to keep listing.
But our 7 year olds! How extraordinary to know that for them, they have never known any different. That despite the beliefs of their natal environment, they will always have to come to terms with the fact that they grew up differently. And here’s the reason, when they ask “why?” there won’t be valid a answer as to why not? “Why can’t a black man be president?” He can, they know he can. In fact it’s all they’ve known. “Why can’t a same sex couple be treated the same?” I dunno, let’s ask Indiana & Arkansaw. Explain discrimination to a child and see how ridiculous it sounds. Try explaining that some can, while others can’t, and see their uncertainty and their outrage.
That’s the key, growing up exposed to the realities of life, instead of the bigotry of individuals. That’s why education is so important and it’s why media representation is so important. If this country wants to address the real issues, such as race, gender, etc. we first have to look at what we’re putting out there for the next generation. It is clear that this country is fighting tooth and nail to hold on to discriminatory ideals better left to the long past. It’s also clear that those who are trying to change things for the better have been doing so too silently. Those who aren’t silent are the ones spewing hate.
Instead of facing the outrage of indecency, our children face the outrage of derived from hate and fear. It’s not just the outright bigotry that’s the issue, it’s those little things that we don’t take notice of. The stereotype in the show, the casual comment or joke that we see as harmless. The other day I asked a bunch of social work students to give me a positive depiction of a social worker in today’s media and they came up blank. However, We were able to come up with a few negative stereotypes:
2 ½ men: sleeps with client
Grey’s Anatomy: child-stealer
And that’s for a profession without a history of degradation. Try that experiment the next time you sit down. Ask yourself how many women are in the position of power or perhaps how are people of color depicted? We need to decide what the next 7 years will teach our children, and maybe. Just maybe. Learn a little something about the world from them instead.
By: Courtney Kidd, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
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