Wednesday, March 3, 2010

There's No Pride in Prejudice

Viva La Difference!

by CJ Heck

Children aren’t born as bigots. But when children are born into prejudice, they can become bigots.

Was that too strong? I hope not.  I think sometimes you have to be bold and upfront when you feel strongly about something as important as social injustice and intolerance for people's differences.

Of course this is only my personal opinion and you know what they say, “Opinions are like ... er ... noses … everyone has one.” 

I grew up in a small town in Ohio, almost in the center of the state. Heck, it was so small that if my high school graduating class had more than a hundred fifty students, I’ll be a monkey’s aunt.   But, I digress ...

My hometown looked just like the town in the movie, "Back To The Future". We had a ten pin bowling alley, a pool hall where the rowdies hung out, a movie theater with 25-cent Saturday afternoon matinees, a couple of pizza shops and a root beer stand for dates, and the infamous drive-in movie -- but this was off-limits to most of us until we were almost grownups ourselves. Our quaint little Main Street was even centered around a similar picturesque white-domed brick town hall building -- and it also had a big clock, just like in the movie.

Other than the senior citizen trailer park down by the river, there wasn’t really a north or south side of the tracks in my hometown. What we did have was an area just outside of town where most of the rowdies lived. Obviously, not everyone who lived there was a rowdie, and Lord knows, there are rowdies in every socioeconomic group everywhere across the country.

Anyway, my point is, in my hometown, the rowdies were the tough kids, the ones who were always in trouble with police. Our parents (and everyone else in authority) used them as an example to keep us from getting into trouble, like when people say, “You’d better be good or the Boogie Man will get you.”  Parents changed it a little and what we heard was, “You’d better be good or you’ll end up as a rowdie!"

For most of us, that was enough to mend our ways. Those kids were the real town toughies, the bullies in school who beat you up, and the ones we were most eager to stay away from.

Isn’t it shameful that the color of a person’s skin, their sexual preference, how rich or poor they are, or what their religious beliefs might be, have become more significant than the behavior of the rowdies in our towns and cities? Sometimes I think the whole world has gone nuts. It’s depressing.  Prejudice causes more hurt and resentment than crime does.

I, for one, would love to go back to a simpler, more gentle time, when the town's  rowdies were the ones we didn’t want our children and grandchildren to play with ...

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

1 comment:

Lisa Daniels said...

Hi CJ - Enjoyed your post. Two things - I think a lot of the bigotry we see with kids these days has been encouraged by pop culture in the form of comedians who use racial slurs to get laughs, performers who use discriminatory language in songs and by video games who use racial stereotypes. The other thing is that even though the idea of just plain rowdies sounds like a return to simplicity, those kids were unempowered in some way that made their behavior bad. Today they would be considered the ones who we should really be concerned about. Bottom line - best thing for our world is to teach kindness and tolerance to our kids