That is how we have raised our son. People are not a color or a size or anything else that may set them apart descriptively in a different way from us. Because we either look for similarities or we celebrate everyone’s differences.
And differences abound. We know families with single moms either through adoption or surrogacy. We know many people with many different and/or mixed heritages. Our neighborhood is not homogeneous, thank goodness.
I grew up feeling different than everyone around me. That was not a comfortable feeling. I couldn’t wait to move into NYC to get lost in the millions so people could not identify me as the gay one, the fat one, or just the sissy. Yes, full of self esteem I was.
And my son is different. So I want him to feel he is similar to everyone in that everyone is different. He is adopted, he is mixed race, he has 2 dads. Could he be more set apart? Not in a homogeneous area. Thankfully our neighborhood, our school, our environs, are filled with a wonderful melange of folks. My son may go to a school that is whiter in it’s population and then to the boys club that is darker in its population but we feel we have successfully raised him not to notice. And from what we can tell, he doesn’t notice, he just sees boys that could be his friends Yes, he is one of those, everyone is his friend from the onset. So different from me who grew up afraid of everyone. I think his attitude will serve him well in life.
So then he comes home and tells me black this, black that, Rosa Parks was at the back of the bus, blacks were slaves, etc. I know this is part of American history, I know it is important to learn, but I also feel it undoes my work in teaching him we are all one people. I don’t harp on the fact that the Jewish people have been persecuted through the ages because I don’t want him to feel he is set apart from people of other religions. And I don’t want him to look at people with a different skin color as different from him. But I feel that the school curriculum has taken that away from me. And in my heart I know this must all be taught, but I feel that pinpointing differences is not the way to go anymore.
Blacks were slaves in America. Jews were slaves in Egypt, gays have always been persecuted, etc.. My fear is he is being taught to see differences in people, while I am trying to teach we are all in this together. Illustrate how everyone was oppressed, not just one people, don’t harp on the differences amongst people, temper this information with examples of how we are all the same, how many peoples have suffered, etc.
I say it is time to move forward as one people, not as many separate factions. We all need to learn to teach our children in a new way. But how?