nar·row-mind·ed (năr′ō-mīn′dĭd)

adj.  Lacking tolerance, breadth of view, or sympathy; petty.  Sometimes you find this word with intolerance – unwillingness to recognize and respect differences in opinions or beliefs.

When I was teaching, I could always tell which children were told that not everyone is alike, and therefore, you shouldn’t treat them the same.  I don’t know if parents mean to do this to their children, or if it just comes from years of being told the same thing.  Their parents did it to them, so therefore, it must be the way that children should be raised.  However, at some point, your inner voice starts telling you that maybe it’s okay to make friends with people who are not like you.  As a matter of fact, not only is it okay, but it is good for you.  You become a more well-rounded person and your view of the world starts to become smaller actually, as you realize that on the inside, we are all the same.

Teaching tolerance will always be something I value.  Like Daryl Davis.  If you are unfamiliar with this man, let me tell you a bit of his story.  Daryl is a black musician and in 1983, well after the Civil Rights Movement, he was playing in a all-white (informally of course) lounge.  A man approached him after his set, and said he liked his piano playing.  That started a relationship between the two…the black man and a member of the KKK.  This was one of the coolest stories I had heard in a long time.  I wish this story was made part of the curriculum in high schools all around the country.  You can read more about Daryl Davis: A Black Man Amidst the Klan or in this interesting piece here.

Of particular interest to me is how he was brought up:
I was raised overseas in integrated schools. I had had a racist experience already but I didn’t know people organized into groups whose premise was to be racist and exclude other people. It seemed unfathomable to me. My parents were in the Foreign Service and I was an American embassy brat, going to international schools overseas. My classes were filled with anyone who had an embassy: Japanese, German, French, Italian. It was multicultural but that term did not exist at that time. For me it was just the norm. Every time I would come back (to the US,) I would see people separated by race. When my father was telling me about (the KKK) at the age of 10 it didn’t make any sense to me. I had always gotten along with everyone.
With a diverse background, he came to the United States.  He had some pretty funny conversations with one of his friends in the Klan about the brainwashing prejudice causes.  When people are confronted with images of something they don’t understand, be it other religions, race, or ways of life, they react as if they are brainwashed.  This is another line I like from one of the articles I read above: When asked about the fear many people feel when confronted with images of KKK members, he says “It’s just material. You have to address what’s in the person’s head and in their heart.”
Indeed you do.  Preach it.



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