Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stereotypes Exist for a Reason

I have to admit, I don’t know much about the details regarding the Trayvon Martin case, if that is indeed what it is now.  Unfortunately, regardless of how it is resolved, there will still be one less black male and another other race male that will have to live with the fact that he took a life.  No, this is not about Trayvon.  It’s about our level of responsibility relative to how we are viewed, perceived, judged and treated.  I’m not going to address the exceptions, those adverse issues, incidents and prejudices that arise despite our best attempts at civility towards our fellow man, and those that are not going to like or have an affinity for you no matter what.  This is strictly about holding ourselves to a certain standard, and being honest about our actions and manner.

Relative to honesty, perhaps it was easier to navigate through behavior and attitudes during the Jim Crow era because you’d know exactly where you stood. The phrase politically correct wasn’t even in the lexicon. And please don’t take offense to the Jim Crow reference. This is in no way intended to denigrate or lessen the importance of the Civil Rights Movement. Again, it’s about honesty.
It seems the more we try to regulate and legislate civility, the less we strive to be truly civil.

 The previous example may be a little extreme, but think of others. Today’s schoolchildren don’t have to experience not getting a valentine from everyone, or being picked last for the team. There is no stigma relative to the teenager walking around pregnant in middle school or high school.  What is the expectation, or what can we aspire to if we can’t truly acknowledge how we feel because everything has to be right and fair?  It’s like affirmative action and set asides in relation to behavior and standards.

Perhaps we’ve expended so much effort over the last few decades telling our children what they can do, that we neglected to tell them what they can’t.  Is it possible to make others feel that certain options are accessible without imputing a sense of entitlement?  Is that how we cultivate a work for it ethic?  Again, how can we talk about raising the bar and reinforcing positive, acceptable behavior that allows one to progress when attempts to be just have all but taken the bar away?
You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but some of them don’t end up on coffee tables by happenstance.

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