I had an interesting conversation with my youngest daughter this morning on the way to dropping her off at high school where she is a senior and set to graduate later this month. She relayed an interesting story of how she sees a lot of idiocy when it comes to conflict and strife amongst various kids, and typically due to their race or color.
She told me of how yesterday she was walking down a hallway to class when this very tall boy, who happened to be white, decided it would be amusing to push and harass a smaller boy, who happened to be black. In the process of his bullying, the one boy used the typical ignorant racial epithet towards this other boy. My daughter, who has an extremely strong sense of right and wrong, was flabbergasted and immediately started upbraiding the much larger bully for his stupidity and bigotry.
She said he stopped harassing the other boy, asked her what her problem was, called her a few hateful names, and somewhat chastised and sheepishly walked away down the hall. The other boy went on about his business without a word said evidently. I asked if anyone else said anything or if any of the other students tried to help. My daughter said, "No!"
My question then is what in the heck is going on when someone tries to do the right thing and stop a bully, especially one that is behaving in an ignorant and racist manner, and no one else even bothers to get involved other than to stand by and watch the train wreck as it occurs?
I thought all of these years of liberal political correctness had supposedly enlightened us and taught us to respect each others differences. We were supposed to learn that African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native-Americans, Asian-Americans etc. all had wonderful and unique cultural aspects to their heritages. I have no doubt that this is indeed true, but by separating ourselves into seemingly more segregated sub-groups of Americans, don't we end up achieving the exact opposite of the intended goal for which we are striving?
Why must we focus on what makes one race, creed, or ancestry different from the others to such exclusion? Rather, should we not be focusing on what we all have in common as Americans? Should we not focus more on what it is about our American culture and the God-given rights and freedoms that our government is supposed to protect so that there may be justice for all of us?
Why must we separate ourselves as hyphenated Americans? Why don't we just label ourselves as Americans, because that is indeed what we all are.
When we start focusing more at the commonalities that bind us together as Americans, I suspect there will be far fewer idiots in the world that find it necessary to degrade someone else for having a different color of skin pigmentation. Further, there would not as likely be one lone voice speaking out against such ignorance, but rather there would be a lot more kids in the hallway standing in solidarity to shame a racist bully for his actions and words.
I am not so naive as to think that racism will one day be totally eradicated completely in our country, but it seems to me that focusing on what draws us together as Americans rather than on what makes us different would be far more hopeful and helpful in restoring that seemingly lost notion of the great American melting pot.
In the meantime, I am proud that this is one lesson that my daughter seems to have deeply ingrained within her character and the courage to stand up when others would rather just watch or keep on walking down the hallway.