Re: “Mayor recognizes we haven’t always dealt with racism well,” Progress Letters, July 2, 2020.
While research has shown that infants demonstrate an innate preference for adults of their own race, any future racist tendencies generally are environmentally acquired.
One way of rectifying this bias is by allowing young children to become accustomed to other races in a harmoniously positive manner.
Adult racist sentiments, however, are often cemented by a misguided yet strong sense of entitlement, perhaps also acquired from rearing.
Fortunately, at an impressionably young age I was emphatically told by my mother about the exceptionally kind and caring nature of our Black family doctor.
She never had anything disdainful to say about people of colour. In fact, she loves to watch/listen to the Middle Eastern and Indian subcontinental dancers and musicians on the multicultural channels. She only saw/sees what is in one’s heart.
Conversely, if she’d told me the opposite about the doctor, et cetera, I could’ve aged while blindly linking his colour with an unjustly cynical view of him and all Black people.
When angry, my (late) father occasionally expressed displeasure with Anglo immigrants, largely due to his own experiences with bigotry as a new Canadian citizen in the 1950s and ’60s.
Like mom he emigrated from Eastern Europe and didn’t resent non-white immigrants, for he realized they had things at least as bad. Plus he noticed – as I also now do – in them an admirable absence of a sense of entitlement.
Thus essentially by chance I reached adulthood unstricken by uncontrolled feelings of racial contempt seeking expression.
Not as lucky, some people – who may now be in an armed authority capacity – were raised with a distrust or blind dislike of other racial groups.
The first step towards changing our irrationally biased thinking is our awareness of it and then its origin.
But until such progress, racist sentiments must be either suppressed or professionally dealt with, especially when considering the mentality is easily inflamed by anger. For, great harm can come to those unjustly exposed to the racism, including the racists’ own susceptible young children.
Frank Sterle Jr.
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