Thoughts on the future of tolerating diversity

Today even though this country is more open now than it has ever been, they have a long way to go to tolerate diversity…much less seek it out and embrace it.

Now re-read that last sentence and think about how true it might be if the country we’re talking about is America.

My friend Thomas wrote the above in his latest blog (he is currently with the Peace Corps in Langzhou, China), and it gave me pause. This is not particularly surprising, as Thomas is one of the most intelligent and thought-provoking people I have the privilege of knowing. But the statement really made me think.

I went shopping this weekend and saw a lot of mixed-race families, specifically families in which one of the parents was of Asian descent and the other parent was White. These families are interesting to me because this is the makeup of the family Cute Husband and I started. In observing the children of these families, the first thing that I noticed was how prominent their Asian features were, and it made me think of how un-prominent Baby C’s Asian features are. It doesn’t bother me that Baby C doesn’t look like he’s half-Filipino. It wouldn’t bother me if he didn’t look like he was half-White, either, though. He’s my son, and I think he’s the most beautiful child in the world.

I’ve never really thought of a person’s race as anything interesting or important. Rather, it’s just a component of someone’s features, akin to being tall or short, slender or heavyset. As a result, I never thought of myself as any different from another person. I attended predominantly white schools my entire life and was never treated any differently, either.

Thomas’s statement just made me think about some of those who do look at race as a part of a person’s identity, and it made me a little sad, then hopeful at the same time. Sad because this still exists, more than 40 years since the start of the Civil Rights movement and more than 60 years since the end of the second World War. Sad because there are still some who are missing out on the beauty of many different cultures. Sad because some people don’t allow themselves to see beyond a person’s appearance to discover the individual inside.

But what gives me hope is Baby C and all the other children of mixed race families. A child, after all, doesn’t judge people by appearances, but rather how those close to him react to others. If his parents are judgemental about a person’s skin, then he will be, too. But if his parents (and grandparents, neighbors, caregivers, and any other adults around him) are open-minded and willing to accept different cultures – as people in mixed-race marriages tend to be – he, too, will learn to accept others for the people they are.

Maybe Baby C’s generation will be the one to truly seek out and embrace diversity. Here’s hoping, anyway.

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