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Member since: Tue Oct 21, 2008, 10:30 PM
Number of posts: 3,042

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My niece lives in Houston.

My two brothers, their families, and lots of other relatives live in Austin. So far they're all okay.

I'm keeping them and all of the people who aren't okay in my thoughts, and I know all of DU are doing the same. So, thank you, and keep it up!

You have to TEACH them.

When my son was about eight years old he witnessed an uncharacteristically loud argument going on between my husband and me. The argument was insignificant, and probably (knowing myself) petty. But afterwards I noticed my son’s behavior changing. His normal stubborn individualism turned into compliant acquiescence. He began offering to do things like unload the dishwasher without being asked (until then I wasn’t even sure he knew we owned a dishwasher), and he seemed somehow…sad.

I was pretty sure that his new obedience and amenability were, while in some ways refreshing, a direct result of the argument he saw. I consulted his school counselor about it, saying at one point, “It’s like he thinks we’re going to get divorced!”

Her response shook me, “Are you?”

“Of course not!” I exclaimed. “It was just a stupid argument. I don’t even remember what it was about.”

“Well, he doesn’t know that,” she said calmly. I was stunned. How could he possibly think that his father and I would split up? The very wise counselor continued, “He has a lot of friends whose families are breaking up, and he sees first hand the heartache it causes. How is he supposed to know that his family is any different? You have to tell him.”

I wasted no time. The next time my son and I were alone together, I explained, “Look, I know you have friends whose parents are getting divorced.” I saw his eyes begin to well with tears and realized I had botched the opening statement, so I quickly forged ahead, “That’s not gonna happen here. Dad and I aren’t separating. We can’t. No one else would take us.” My son’s face relaxed for the first time in days, even as the tears began to fall. I told him in no uncertain terms that he was stuck with both of us, in the same house until he, himself, was good and ready to be rid of us and move out.

Once I had finished my clumsy explanation, he sat silent for what felt like hours—probably about thirty seconds. Then he looked up at me, cracked a tearful smile, and said, “Thanks, Mom.” I’ve never been so relieved to have my son, once again, ignoring dirty dishes.

I’ve been thinking about this incident with regard to Charlottesville and all of the parents and families of the Neo-Nazis, racists, and fascists, who are shocked to find that their children and siblings have become so hateful and so violent. And while I certainly don’t blame them for their loved ones' actions, it bears reminding ourselves that people, especially our kids, have to be taught things like acceptance, equality, and social justice. They don’t just “get it” by being around good people.

I grew up in the South. My high school had been desegregated for over a decade before I arrived, and the population was about half white and half African-American. But none of us were taught how to behave toward each other. We weren’t given lessons in equality and tolerance. We were simply thrown together by administrators and well-meaning activists who, once desegregation was accomplished, simply congratulated themselves on their progressivism and moved on to other issues.

The result was a kind of self-segregated environment, and a racial tension that was even exacerbated by some of the “teachers,” some of whom honestly had a lot in common with the racists in Charlottesville. The white kids sat in one section of the cafeteria, and the blacks in another. The white kids were vastly more likely to be in advanced classes than the black kids (not on merit, mind you, but on the presumptions of a few, frankly, racist instructors), making most classrooms pretty monochromatic. And even in classrooms where the number of black and white students were evenly matched, there was always an invisible line that separated their desks by skin color—usually white kids in the front, black kids in the back. And the teachers, typically, said nothing.

Even extra-curricular activities like band, drill-team, and of course football, which were much more physically integrated, didn’t make an attempt to teach equality and acceptance. Once the football game was over, the races would simply go their separate ways once again. An opportunity tragically missed.

One of the saddest observations about Charlottesville has been seeing so many young people spewing hatred and truly vile racism that we, as a nation, continue to believe is in our past until it once again erupts into murderous riots. And it is sad. But it’s not that surprising. Not to me.

Kids have to be taught. They must be told, and shown, and practice how to live together in harmony. It has to be explicit, and it has to be given the priority it deserves in a child’s education. Because, if we just assume that our children “get it” we end up with Charlottesville.

"How do you solve a problem like Reality?"

This was Ari Melber's description of how Trump aides came up with the idea of presenting him with "positive" "news" stories about himself.

I've always liked Ari.

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