“Mom, why do people treat us like that?” My daughter asked me.
She was in the room when I learned about the mass shooting and wanted to know what I was reacting to. I told her, and she sat there in a daze, devastated.
I put my arm around here and said, “People are taught to hate.”
Hate is Learned
We are not born thinking some people are better than others. We learn this.
Some of us learn it outright through our families, communities, schools, from leaders, and in places of worship.
Many of us “pick it up” through media – not just who is or isn’t represented, but how they are represented.
These images and the perpetuation of stereotypes based on racism and white supremacy seep into descriptions on the news, character development in shows, and the storylines and casting in movies.
How we perpetuate isms…
Some isms (racism, sexism, ableism) are obvious. We notice ourselves say or think something, or notice our actions and can identify it – and maybe call it back. But much of our bias and discrimination goes unnoticed by us, lodged in our brain as unconscious bias that we swear we don’t have. It’s there, however, and it comes out in our words, our behaviour and even in our silence – if/how we respond and if/how we react.
So, every time you are dismissive, rude, make a sideways comment or disregard someone based on skin colour (or class, or sexual orientation, etc) you reinforce the narrative of us vs them, better and less than, worth and less worth, valued and not/less valued.
If you have children, they learn this from you. And if you think NOT saying anything “wrong” absolves you, think again. Messages arrive through silence as well.
Children are smarter than we think. They feel what is going on.
We don’t do them a service by not talking about the reality of hatred in the world (of course, in age-appropriate ways).
Incidents like the mass shooting in Buffalo arise because we have a culture that accepts and supports inequity, racism, and white supremacy.
What are you doing to raise awareness about this and effect change in your sphere of influence?