A recent news report on how adults leaving the Trump rally in Tulsa explained racial justice protests to their children and grandchildren was a bit alarming — though what would be expected from those coming out of such a gathering.
Conflating isolated violence with peaceful protests; claims of being color blind while advancing racial injustice; and blaming Democrats for the KKK (without noting the huge political shift following LBJ’s signing of the Civil Rights Act and Nixon’s race-whistling Southern Strategy).
There was feigned sympathy for poor ol’ brainwashed black people who are not smart enough to know they’re being used. That such ignorance and misinformation are still being handed down from one generation to another made me angry.
But then I remembered all the nonsense offered up by trusted adults during the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King Jr. and other non-violent protesters were deemed “trouble makers” in my hearing.
“Everything is fine.” “They just need to calm down.”
Then, of course, there were those being indoctrinated with the asinine biblical case for white superiority — based on the trumped-up, nonsensical “Curse of Ham.” The claim — a teaching well established in fundamentalist churches and schools — asserted that God had cursed Ham and destined his dark-skinned offspring to lives of forced servitude.
These self-proclaimed Bible believers — “from cover to cover” — ignored the fact that God didn’t do the cursing, but a drunk Noah. And it was Canaan, not Ham, who was cursed.
And the cited text in Genesis makes no reference whatsoever to race, but why let facts get in the way of teaching young white people that God holds them in higher regard than those of other races?
As a youth I was told that all black people steal — “it’s in their blood” — and that if God meant for people of different races to mingle “he would have put them on the same continent.”
Some racism came with a little geography.
Hippies — with their long hair and peace-loving ways — were also targets. Why they wouldn’t cut their stringy hair, toss those beads and flowery shirts, and “act like you’re suppose to” made no sense to my elders.
These freedom seekers were missing out on all the joy of toting a lunchbox to the factory five days a week and performing like machines — until machines took their jobs.
Not all those nuggets of wisdom, however, passed the test of time — or my mind, heart and personal experience. Unlearning is as important as learning. And such tends to occur within expanded relationships and with critical thinking.
It is troubling that some adults today are still passing along profound ignorance. It’s more troubling, however, to find so many adults who have refused to learn anything new in 40 or 50 years.
While there is great danger in passing along that which is dishonest and unloving, the good news is it doesn’t always stick.
As Graham Nash put it, “Teach your children well.” If not, may they become good “unlearners” who find truth and grace elsewhere.