Preaching Against Prejudice

What are we teaching our children? Stop and think about this right now. What kind of little jokes have been told in the presence of your littles in the past week that, at their core, are prejudice? How many political speeches (can you say Donald Trump?) have had an underlying prejudice theme? How many television shows, websites, or comics have made some throw-off racist remark just to make people laugh? In the last week. In The Last Day.

There is nothing more abhorrent than prejudice. I have called it the Worst Human Flaw Ever, and I always will. It is the opposite of love. When you laugh at, belittle, or hate someone because they are different from you, you are killing love. Dead. Why would anyone want to do that?

I thought I was tired yesterday. Then I finally gave in and went to the store to get dish soap. Turned on NPR in the car, because that is what I do. Heard the news about the church shooting in Charleston. Wept. And wept. And wept. Racially motivated mass murder… WTF? How is it possible that this is still happening in the world? People from 26 different countries read this blog. They are not all like me. They do not all have the same color skin, the same sexual orientation, the same beliefs.  They are not even the same size.  I welcome their differences. I want to learn all about the Whole World, not just my little corner. I am honestly flummoxed that this kind of thing still happens. When we have more opportunity today to learn about and understand each other than at any other time in history, we should be learning about and understanding each other. We may end up not liking each other, but at least it will be based on something real.

When we talk to our littles about the Charleston AME Church shooting, it should not be our first conversation about racism.   It should be one in a long line of sermons against prejudice that we have given our children since birth.  Teaching our children tolerance should be one of the first and most important lessons we teach.  Let’s not get bogged down in the gun debate, that is the government’s job.  Let’s remember and teach against the true crime: hate.

“I’m here to shoot black people.”

Think about that.  Think about how horrific that sentence is.  Insert any other ethnicity.  And ask yourself why.  This monster was younger than Big.  He didn’t learn to hate ‘black people’ all by himself.  He is still a child.  He hasn’t had enough grown-up experience yet to make informed decisions.  His information still comes from his background.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming his parents.  I don’t know them.  In fact, I have read nothing about them.  I am merely trying to make the point that if we are not teaching tolerance in our home, refusing to give in to the pressure to find prejudice remarks funny, introducing our children to other cultures, and making sure they judge people on an individual basis, we are perpetuating the crime.

My beautiful husband wrapped his arms around me last night as I cried and admired my big heart.  There is nothing here to admire.  I simply don’t mind letting my Littles see how the tragedy of prejudice impacts me.  It tears me to my core.  The people who died in that church were husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers.  According to their peers, they were all kind and giving.  They did nothing to deserve Dylan Roof’s hate.  From what I understand, he didn’t know a single one of them.  Each victim was a human being, just like me.  Just like you.  Just like your children.

Please.  Look at your children today and remind them that the world is very small now.  That they will meet white people, black people, Asian people, Latinos, Europeans, Russians, Australians, Africans.  Straight people, gay people, transgenders.  Thin people, fat people, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Taoists, atheists, agnostics.  Tell your children that it’s okay to love all those people until unless they prove, individually, that they are unworthy of love.  Remind them that hate takes a lot of energy and that they shouldn’t waste that energy on people they’ve never met.  That even in countries where our soldiers are fighting for their lives, each of the humans involved is an individual who just wants to live.  They have the same hopes and dreams, joys and sorrows, that we have.  They have the same right to life.

I read a quote last night from pop singer Solange Knowles (whom I happen to adore): “Where can we be black?”  In my house, Solange.  In your house, dear reader, too, I hope.

It has to start with us.  We have to teach our children how wrong prejudice is.  If we do that, we have a chance in this world.  As people.  To stop hate crimes.  To stop all the anger.  To let everyone live.

Let’s not let this turn into a gun control debate.  Because that much hate could have come out in any way.  Knives. Bombs.  House fires.  Stay focused, and teach your littles about hate control.  Because that is the bottom line.  We are a family of hunters. I spend many, many hours every November and December hunting meat to put on my family’s table. I am a full-on believer in our Second Amendment rights. I think it’s one of the things that keep our country strong. But we are only as strong as our weakest link. And our weakest link is prejudice. Hating each other. For no reason. Killing each other over our differences.

Our differences are what this country was built on. Differences populated this country. Differences make this country great. But we have to embrace them. We have to teach our littles to embrace them.  I implore you to talk to your children about it.  Every day.  Because change has to come, and it has to start with us.

Despite it all, I still believe, with all my heart and soul,

Love wins,

KT

Homeschool Roast

Here’s the thing.  Lately I’ve come across several articles and/or blog posts bashing homeschooling.  Not for the usual reasons, and not by the usual people.  No, these articles have been written by former homeschooled kids, some of them college grads, who had such miserable experiences with homeschooling that they are dead set on discouraging any- and everyone from attempting it.

My heart aches for these kids.  It bleeds tears.  I can’t help but think of Big’s Beautiful Girlfriend.  She was homeschooled, and I met her long before Big did, because she was a regular patron at my library.  She was one of my faves.  She would come in on Saturday and, as long as I wasn’t too busy,  we would talk about the whole world.  She was so bright, so capable of probing the depths of any conversation.  I loved her before she ever promised herself to my oldest son.

When she did meet and fall in love with Big, I had already moved from the library to the school and was contemplating homeschooling.  She was one of the examples I thought of when I wanted to remind myself what could come of homeschooling my kids.  But.

But.  Our talks at the library didn’t open a window into her life the way getting to know her as Big’s girlfriend did.  When they first started dating, they had to do it in secret.  Not from me, but from her parents, who would not have approved of how seldom Big went to church.  Big is an intelligent, responsible, hard-working, college-attending young man.  He doesn’t drink or smoke.  He might curse a little more than necessary (I don’t really know), but never around me or anyone else he might offend.  He keeps her on a reasonable pedestal and loves her with all he is.  There is little to disapprove in my son.  Except he isn’t particularly religious.  So she wouldn’t have been allowed to date him.

She also was discouraged from attending college, getting her own place, or having a life in general that didn’t revolve around homemaking, baby-making, being a submissive wife.  Her education was geared more towards those things and she taught herself everything else by being a voracious reader.  She used to be scared of math until I encouraged her to get her GED and she passed.  When she told her parents, at almost 20 years old, that she wanted her own life, they gave her 24 hours to get out.  She came here.  She and Big had been seeing each other for more than a year by then, and I was not about to let her live on the street.  She had a bit of savings but no car.  But that girl… She wasn’t on our couch a week and she had found and rented an apartment and gotten a job.  We loaned her a car.  She made it.  She got her GED because she wants to go to college and her parents didn’t supply her with a diploma.  She is a manager at her job now, making great money and planning greater things.

Still.  She had a pretty terrible homeschool experience.  Quite similar to some of these articles I’ve been reading.  But Beautiful Girlfriend, she didn’t turn against homeschooling in general.  She is even seriously considering homeschooling her own kids when she has them (and I hope they’re my grandbabies, but I hope she goes to college first because she wants to and she deserves to live the life that She wants).

So when I see these kids whose experiences must have been infinitely worse, even abusive, I don’t know what to say to them.  My initial reaction whenever someone bashes homeschooling is to defend it.  I know homeschooling isn’t done (at least not these days) by arrogant, prejudiced people who don’t–to paraphrase a couple of articles–want their kids around gays or blacks or whites or Latinos or atheists.  I know that All of the homeschoolers I know personally homeschool because they want their children to have Real Educations and Opportunities that have sort of petered out of the public school system in the last couple decades.  Whether they teach religion in their schools or not, they are not trying to indoctrinate their kids with hate and fear.  All of them, whether educated or not, are intelligent, creative and Involved in their children’s educations.

But these kids, they don’t want to hear that.  Anything I say to them is going to touch a place of hurt so deep they can no longer reason.  Especially if all I have is a small space in the comment section and they can’t see my face or hear my voice and know I am coming from a place of compassion.  So I am at a loss.  Even as their assumptions (which is what they are, based on their own experiences) anger me, my anger is smote by regret for their experiences and a true desire to just hug them, to just let them know they are valid people.  And to tell them that they must be strong indeed to come away from their environment with a voice and a strong enough will to write about it publicly.  And maybe ask them to hang out in the blogosphere with me and my community of homeschooling mamas and dads who are part of the New movement of homeschooling, who are truly doing this because our children are more important to us than our own limbs, and who are (hopefully) getting it right.  Put some light on homeschooling.  See it for what it has become.  And leave behind all those old ideas about social awkwardness, prejudice, and closet abuse.

Ugh.  How are we ever going to convince people we’re not doing those things when we have (apparently) a generation of 20-somethings out there writing about those very things happening to them?

The thing is, Beautiful Girlfriend’s parents haven’t spoken to her since she left their house.  It wrecks me.  Because if they could see the love and happiness inherent in her relationship with Big, if they could see what an amazing woman she is today, and how well she has done for herself, and all she has learned… I think they would be proud.  I know I am.  And I know she misses them every second of every day and would welcome them back into her life in a fraction of a heartbeat.

Maybe all these kids need is a mentor in their lives to let them know they are loved.  Just like any kid.  Because, by God,

Love wins,

KT

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