Bigotry Can Be Unlearned

, , , , | Related | May 21, 2018

(I have always been very close to my grandfather, to the point we were nearly inseparable when I was little. My grandfather has very dated views on the world and I am told that I helped to change those views. All of these stories are told to me when I am older.)

Grandpa: *talking to his daughter* “I’m just saying that women shouldn’t be preachers! Y’a’ll can work normal jobs now, and that’s fine, but certain jobs should be for a man! A preacher is called Father for a reason!”

Me: “Grandpa, does that mean I can’t be a preacher when I’m older?”

Grandpa: “Well, I… That’s a bit different, Squirt. You’re a very smart young girl, and I think you’d be good at whatever you did. But other women shouldn’t do those things. It’s not natural.”

Me: “But if I’m smart enough, couldn’t there be other girls that are smart enough, too?”

Grandpa: “I mean, there could be… It’s just… Oh, forget it. You just don’t understand yet.”

(On another occasion.)

Grandpa: *to his friend* “I fought in Vietnam, so I know those Asians are good for nothing! I watched them kill their own people over there. One woman died right in front of me because she hid us away. They killed one of their own in cold blood, no proof at all she’d done it! They’re disgusting.”

Me: “But Grandpa, you just said one lady saved your life. She was Asian. Doesn’t that mean there are good Asians. too?”

Grandpa: “Squirt, don’t you go mixing me up now. I know what I saw, and those people were evil.”

Me: “Were the people who were killed evil?”

Grandpa: “No, they weren’t, but it’s just… Ugh, you’re too young to understand.”

(Yet another time…)

Grandpa: *at the kitchen table* “When I moved up from the south to my new schoo,l there was a [racial slur] in my class. I walked straight up to him and punched him straight in the nose! That taught him real quick who was boss!”

Me: “Did he hurt you, Grandpa?”

Grandpa: “He couldn’t land a hit on me! I got him before he even knew it was coming!”

Me: “But Grandpa, you told me never to hit someone unless they hurt me first!”

Grandpa: “That’s right, Squirt, but sometimes you just have to show who’s stronger.”

Me: “You told me the bigger person is the one who can solve things without hurting people.”

Grandpa: *thoughtful pause* “You’re right. You remember not to hit people now, you hear?”

(Years later when I heard these stories, I asked my Grandpa about them. He said he learned some valuable lessons from me about discrimination, violence, and how to keep his mouth shut in front of the kids. Every once in a while I still have to talk some sense into him, but he has come a long way and I still love him dearly.)

See You Later, Elevator

, , , , , | Related | May 21, 2018

(I get in the elevator with a man and his young son. The son has been playing with a basketball in the hallway. As we’re riding down:)

Son: “Can I dribble in here?”

Dad: “No.”

Son: “Okay. No dribbling in the alligator.”

Dad: “Elevator.”

Son: “Right. No dribbling in the elebator.”

Dad: “Close enough.”

(I couldn’t help but chuckle.)

Taking You Into The Double Digits

, , , , , | Related | May 20, 2018

(My sister and I are watching a TV show where children perform difficult mental tasks. In this round, they have to perform a series of calculations within a certain time limit. This contestant gives one answer just before the clock runs out, and the emcee is starting to give the next question:)

Em-Cee: “Nine thousand …” *timer runs out* “Time’s up!”

Sister: “Nine thousand times up? I wasn’t aware ‘up’ was a digit.”

Me: *gives her a thumbs-up* “Here’s a digit that’s ‘up.'”

Sister: *holds up middle finger* “Here’s another.”

Still Too Soon…

, , , , | Related | May 19, 2018

(I’m picking my sister up from the train. She just finished her final exams at university. She’s a history major.)

Me: “Hey! How are you doing? You look exhausted.”

Sister: “Hello, hey. I’m glad to be finished, truth be told! I started crying when I was looking over some dates yesterday because Abraham Lincoln died.”

Me: “You know what, I’m just not going to ask. I’ll get your bag.”

(Some time later, en route home, I look across and she’s got tears in her eyes.)

Me: “Hey, what’s wrong? Aren’t you happy you’re done?”

Sister: “I was thinking about Abraham Lincoln again.”

Refuses To Give Up The Bounty

, , , , , , , | Related | May 18, 2018

(My mother is helping me sort my son’s clothing to donate anything he has outgrown. I have really small feet, so I have to shop in the kid’s section for footwear.)

Mom: *holds up a small pair of Boba Fett socks* “I think [Son] has outgrown these; shouldn’t we donate them?”

Me: “Those socks are too small for him, but they are mine, so it doesn’t matter that he can’t wear them.”

Mom: “You are a grown woman, and you have Star Wars socks?”

Me: “Does being an adult mean I shouldn’t have Boba Fett socks?”

Mom: “Yeah.”

Me: “I feel a sudden need to do away with such silliness.”

Mom: “The socks?”

Me: *grabs socks* “No, adulthood.”

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