Yes, us parents must be very careful indeed. I've always been intrigued how little interest my kids have taken in the ethnicity of their non-white friends. Coming from a white family, I always imagined at some point they would - out of genuine curiosity - ask a difficult questions about race but they genuinely don't seem to notice such things. It's quite beautiful actually, long may it continue!
Racism Is Alive - Parental Responsibility
Discrimination infuriates me! Stereotypes, narrow minded people and preachers of all that is bad in this world infuriate me. Just because we have taken steps forward in the eyes of the media; racism is alive and well... as is homophobia, prejudice, harassment and ridiculing people based on something 'they' don't believe to be normal. What is normal? It's the fact that we're all different that makes our diverse planet such an enjoyable place (for the most part) to travel, see and be a part of.
I'm a Dad now to 2 young and beautiful children and as I've said many times before, becoming a parent changes your outlook on life. I see them discovering things for the very first time every day and it's a beautiful thing. But I also see the bad side of life on Earth and I can't help but want to wrap my children up and protect them from it. Every day I see, read or experience some form of discrimination. Before becoming a Dad, I wouldn't have taken as much notice as I do today but it infuriates me.
My son has a large 'port wine stain' whch he was born with on his leg and face. It's a birth mark and hampers him in no way at all... it makes him who he is and I barely even acknowledge it when I look at him. That being said, I worry every day that other, more hateful, less educated people will feel the need to point it out and make out that it is something negative in the future. Because there are more people in the world without birth marks on their face than there are that do have them, does that make it abnormal? Does that make him different in a way worse than anyone else is different from the next person? The fact that he could be victim to hate over something he had no choice over and that is completely innocent upsets me greatly.
My daughter suffered an injury during childbirth. She had her scalp badly damaged and the doctors couldn't tell us whether or not she would ever have hair grow on a large proportion of her head. In actual fact, the injury was merely cosmetic and now her hair is growing fine. But the point is that when we learned that, we instantly feared for her future. We thought that a girl who couldn't grow hair would be hampered in life, and be subject prejudice. The fact that we even though that at all is wrong!
I visited Disneyworld as a child for the first time, almost 20 years ago now and an incident from my time there has stuck with me ever since. Disneyworld bills itself as being the happiest place on earth and for the most part, I'd agree. I'm a huge fan. But even the happiest place on earth isn't without it's share of hateful people within. It was pushing 100 degrees that day and there was no escaping the humid, intense heat. 2 complete strangers were walking alongside us right in front of Cinderella's castle talking about being desperate for a frozen treat to cool off with. They sounded genuinely relieved to spy an ice cream stand up ahead. Then the male half of the couple realised that the employee working that ice cream stand was black. They decided that they would rather stay hot and be without ice cream than have "a n***** handle their food". That incident has stuck with me all this time. My sons Godmother and one of our very best friends is Nigerian and black. It angers me that there are people in the world so uneducated that they believe an ice cream sold to them by a black hands as opposed to a white on will be any different. It angers me that someone I care about may have, does or will experience that kind of hatred first hand.
My brother is gay. He is openly, happily gay and why wouldn't he be? It makes him no different from the next person. In fact, if anything it makes him better. The fact that he is different, embraces it and lives bravely amongst a prejudice population makes him a stronger individual than most. But he didn't come out and be openly gay for quite some time, and I know that he's not the only one that felt fearful of being different than the so called norm when it comes to sexual orientation. How many people still live a lie or in fear? The thought of a child of mine living in that kind of fear gives me anxiety. I can't sit still thinking about it, it bothers me that much. I declare now that I will make sure that both of my children know every single day that I will always love them no matter what. Unconditionally.
One of the hardest parts about being a parent is already being old enough to know that the world isn't fair. I hope to be able to teach my children that in the most sensitive way possible. There is no place for hate. I'm afraid that I don't think a day will ever come when people won't be judged on their appearance, sexual orientation, race or gender. But what I can do as a parent is ensure that my children are educated well enough to not add themselves to the list of people that prey on people for being different. I actually WANT my children to be different in their own way and never fear the opinion of someone else. The children of this world deserve to grow up knowing that they deserve to be loved, no matter what and it shouldn't be dependent on anything but them being themselves. Whether your skin is black, white, yellow or has a birthmark plastered across is... your skin is as beautiful as anybody else's.
Children are the most innocent beings. No one is born racist or with the ability to make an assumption based on someone's appearance. Becoming a parent is the greatest privilege known to mankind and we must be grateful for the opportunity to raise the next generation. We as parents have a responsibility to raise our children, leading by example. Only we can shape the future and help put a stop to the hate that we are surrounded by.
Topic: Racism Is Alive - Parental Responsibility
Subject: Parents must be responsible
Subject: Stockholms prejudice and intolerance
Thanks for a great post. I find that I can't be reminded often enough about checking what values I'm demonstrating to my children.
I live in Stockholm, and right now the most obvious intolerance and distain is directed to the Gypsy Romanian beggars sitting outside every mall and along every main pedestrian street. I feel challenged on an almost daily basis about how I respond to them sitting there, and what example I'm showing my kids. Does my behavior demonstrate my belief that they're as valuable an individual as the man in a suit that just passed, the sales person that says hello or the lady on the park bench that just smiled at us?
Subject: F@#k the haters
Live and let live I say! There are, sadly, some very shallow people in this world. I hope that I can bring my kids up to accept people as they come and look for the good in everything.
Great post and good luck with the LAD awards :-)
Subject: Racism Is Alive
Thanks for forwarding this on to me.
I agree with everything you have said. We all strive to be an individual.. Stand out from the crowd, but generally end up conforming to what is deemed popular or the 'norm'.
We are all born as a blank canvas and in our early years Nature & Nurture are our biggest influences. Nature does it's own thing and we generally have to deal with it.. Nurture however is where our families and friends come in. We learn from those around us, and, if we want the world to be a fairer more tolerant place, we need to take those first steps ourselves.. I am not a parent and never will be, but as an adult I accept my responsibility to ensure that I can make the world around me a better place for everyones children and I hope that will have a positive influence on the future of the world i wish to grow old and happy in.
Subject: I understand
Yes I completely agree. I think as our generation looks back, there WAS a lot of prejudice. Especially racially, mainly not in a nasty way but we did have names for other races that today we wouldn't say! It's fear of the unknown a lot of the time. I'm all for live and let live. I have a similar story to you in that one of my twins had a raised strawberry mark right in the middle of his forehead and when the twins sat side by side in the pram it was very noticeable and people would stare. Literally stare and get closer to have a good look. It upset me a lot as I felt people were just looking at that instead of looking at my beautiful boys. And they were so very beautiful. It's since faded a lot and his fringe covers it but bless him. We live just outside London and my children who go to a very mixed school in terms of diversity of ethnicity. This generation is far more accepting, I think! And I like that, it's sure to get better, not disappear of course because there are always going to be uneducated arsesholes in the world ha! x
Subject: Interesting post
I think that children are just mirrors of the things they see and hear at home. I hope my kids grow up to accept themselves and the people around them.
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Subject: In agreement
Lacey-Rae (my 2yr old daughter) has no birth mark on her face or anything that may make her stand out, she is what society would call a 'normal' child but I still get very anxious if I think of her being bullied in any way. Every parents natural instinct is to love and protect their young. I have every faith that your children will know the love you have for them. Being your brothers close friend I have met both yourself and Diana, albeit just a handful of times but have come to see the kind people you are. Just a small time after having my daughter I was at home in the pouring rain(may have even been snow) and you were kind enough to volunteer to do my shopping so that I did not have to take my small baby out in the horrible, cold, wet weather. To you that may have been just a trip to the shop but to me that was a massive help and a fantastic act of kindness I am still grateful for. Small acts like this speak volumes!
Keep blogging Ryan, I find it a very good read :)
Subject: Re: In agreement
Bullying makes me feel physically sick!
Thanks for your kind comments :)