The nephews were watching two Chinese dudes cross the road when one of them started and the other joined in with “Hit the Mexicans!”
This continued until my brother threatened to smack them. He then said, “What the fuck are you running around being racist when you can’t even tell your races apart? I don’t want to hear shit about Mexicans when you don’t even know what a Mexican looks like.”
Needless to say, it was both funny and mortifying.
I don’t know. I just get bummed out when I think of my family, in their own clumsy ways, trying to instill in us this notion that people are people. And here, unless the Butcher gets on the ball right quick, goes our family line descending into this nonsense.
Is there any way to combat that? They’re so young and it just pisses me off that they’re already picking this shit up.
Mack and I were having a fight the other day about Aaron Sorkin* who, on one of his shows–Studio SportsWing, maybe?–, was having this discussion about how (so I guess it was Studio 60) this small town in Missouri or Kansas or where ever, you know, out here were we golly gee just don’t know any better but to be so gosh darn ignorant had banned their high school from doing some musical–Grease, maybe–and the show in the show was going to do some joke about this and then they found out that everyone in that small town works at a chicken processing plant** and that’s the only industry and these folks are just hard-workin’ god-fearin’ folks who just want to bring their kids up and so maybe we shouldn’t make fun of them.
Holy Jesus, this pissed me off. One because it just seems so patronizing to me. Oh, don’t criticise the hicks. They’re just hard-workin’ (etc.) folks trying to do what’s right. As if trying to do what’s right makes you immune from criticism. And two, look at what they think is right!
It’s not right to raise your kids to be afraid of being exposed to ideas that are different than the ones you hold. It’s not right to demand that your children be kept ignorant because that’s all you’re comfortable with. It’s not right to let your fear of art or the bigger world or whatever dictate what other people’s kids can do. And it’s really not right to ignore what people who dissent from your views in your own community say just because you think you have the line on what’s moral.
Romanticising what passes for “what’s right” out here in the heartland is bullshit.
Look at my nephews. That’s what half of their families think is “right.”
Oh, Atlanta, I pray for you to grow right out to the Alabama border. Shit, grow farther than that. Stretch out I-20 and I-85 and blanket my nephews in urban sprawl. Please let them go to school with and become friends with kids who are different than them.
I don’t know.
Aside from the fact that I’m embarrassed to know they’re picking up on that crap, I’m also worried for them. I want them to have good lives and I don’t want them to be limited in their choices.
At the end of the day, that’s what pisses me off about it. That they’re being trained to be reactionary and afraid, to view people who look different than them as remarkable because of it, and those attitudes are going to make their lives hard.
How do you counter that?
*Note to readers: When around Mack, it’s just easier to pretend like Sorkin is a genius. No, I know, you’re thinking “No, I could totally have that fight with Mack and win.” You cannot. He will glue you to his couch and tape your eyelids open and force you to watch as much Sorkin as he has Tivoed until you’re, for some reason, compelled to walk up and down his hallway with him having rapid-fire exchanges about foreign policy, your love for a wayward prostitute (or coke), and how much bloggers suck while his kids run in and out of their rooms throwing in pithy rejoinders at appropriate times.
It’s not worth it.
**And is dying of TB, brought here by time-travelling illegal immigrants! No, not really, but wouldn’t that be great?
Edited to Add: Upon discussion with Mack, I want to say that a.) I was wrong for jumping down his throat and want to publicly apologize; b.) He has a brilliant point, that one mustn’t let small town politics distract us from larger political issues and that we do run the risk of being grossly patronizing to small town folks if we only focus on their short-comings as if we are so much better; and c.) he is so awesome that the women of Iceland, whom he has never met, put up this statue in his honor just based on the legends they’ve heard of him.