My colleague and creator of The Reel Network, Tiara Williams, posted to Facebook today (1/5/14) and it got me thinking.
Tiara was at the park with her daughter and her daughter’s father. A four year old boy at the park told Tiara he was scared of the dad because “he looks mean or maybe he’s going to do something bad”. Tiara asserts that this negative opinion was formed under the influence of his parents, and that he will have this opinion for life.
Being influenced by ones environment and parental upbringing are powerful forces that cannot be ignored. I know first-hand how that can be as I think back to my growing up in Brooklyn, NY. Living in a predominantly White neighborhood, I had a certain degree of fear when going through the “bad neighborhoods” (meaning where the Colored people live) or when traveling on public transportation in the presence of “them”. I have little doubt my parents’ views influenced me.
Sadly, I had personal experience that tended to reinforce those views in me. Such as: being hit over the head on multiple occasions at my predominantly Black junior high school; or being mugged by Black teenagers on the subway or near my college; or a Black kid forcibly borrowing my bicycle.
Once I was an adult I did not have those kinds of experiences again, but the fear probably persisted over many years as I lived in various cities. I must add that I still never associated much with those of a different race. Then something amazing happened!
We moved to the Washington, DC area. For the first time I was residing in a truly integrated neighborhood. The majority of the population in the area was non White. The entire DC area is a rainbow of people. I have to say this had an amazing influence on me. I normally do not want to classify by race, but I say this due to the nature of this blog entry. The majority of my friends are African American. My views and sympathies are often in agreement with African Americans. Most important, I do not have the fears I used to have.
Okay, it took me a while to get here, but the purpose of this discussion is to point out that it is possible to change.