Thursday, June 25, 2015

Autism Answer: Revealing Our Prejudice So We Can Reject It

When our own prejudice is revealed it often surprises us. And in that surprise we are given an opportunity to take a good look at who we are. And an even more important opportunity to make a change. 

Allow me to share such a moment: 

My hubby and I were chatting about the church shooting that happened in South Carolina when our seventeen year old son walked through the room, headed to the kitchen for a snack. He could feel our mood and knew we were talking about something serious so he asked us what it was. 

"Do you know about the church shooting?" I asked.

"No," he responded, adding,"but it sounds like justice."

For a second I didn't know what to say! A shooting as justice?? 

Then I remembered that my son is seventeen and the reality of the world is still partly in "not real" form. Then I also remembered that my son is gay and all of the people who have bullied him about it have used strong religious beliefs to back up their cruelty. 

Then I remembered that sometimes we say things automatically that can teach us something important about ourselves

I waited a moment and when he just stood there I said, "People died." 

"Well, killing people isn't really justice." he grudgingly admitted. "But still, most of those church and religion freaks are constantly hurting us gay people in a lot of other ways."

Then I said, "It was a racial crime, kiddo. The young man was white and he shot several black people specifically because he wanted to start a race war. Specifically because he believes black people do not belong here and are less than human."

My son looked at me, a little stricken. Then he looked at his black dad, who had a few tears in his eyes, and gave him a huge hug. 

While still hugging his dad he said, "I just did the same thing, sort of, didn't I?" our son asked. "I just had my own belief about people who go to church and felt hateful enough to think shooting them was justice."

I piled my own hug onto this emotional realization and added,"But, my love, you didn't do the same thing. You did exactly the opposite! You were willing to see your prejudice and recognize it as cruel. You know, we all have some prejudices in us. Not because we're horrible but because we're human. It's an unwillingness to look at them and re-think them and learn from them that makes us horrible. It's the willingness to hurt and even kill others because of our prejudices that makes us horrible."

We all stepped back from the hug and my son looked relieved. I think this was one of those times when he really heard me! 

Goodness knows I've been saying this sort of thing to him his whole life, but I think this time he really heard me. 

Never stop believing in yourself or your kids, friends! We are always and forever growing up and learning new things about ourselves and our world. 

And let's do our best not to back away from ourselves or our loved ones when prejudices are revealed. Let's talk about them and admit that they are what they are. 

And then, let's reject them. Let's tell them "No. Not in my house!"

And when another one has slipped in with the wind through the crack under the back door, or more likely through the whispers and words and attitudes of a society that still struggles with prejudice, be willing to see it. 

And, again, be willing to reject it!

It's a never ending thing for our generation I'm guessing. But imagine what we can teach to the next generation!


Hugs, smiles, and love!!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

One of my stepdaughters and two of my sons. A colorful bunch!