Thursday, March 15, 2007


I'm still struggling with the issue of where prejudice comes from. Last night we seemed to be of two minds. 1) If one is raised to be racist (by parents and other social influences), then that seems to explain racial attitudes--and since we don't choose our parents, we tend to grow up with values that have been "implanted" (whatever that means) in us. So racists can't really help being racist . . . can they? (That would seem to be the logical extension of that argument.) On the other hand, 2) at some point most of us develop a sense that treating others as inferior to ourselves is simply not right. Where does this sense of "not right" come from--is it King's "higher law" (the "law above law")? An internalized sense of the Golden Rule? Jack Rossi alluded to Huck Finn last night, and I also feel this is exactly Huck's dilemma. He's able to overcome the distorted voices of his moral education--how??

What's most disturbing to me about images of black children picking a white doll as the "good" doll is that this raises the question of where those internalized notions of "goodness" and "badness" have come from? How old were those children--4 or 5? Have they already absorbed, perhaps at an unconscious level, images from the media?

Dr. No


Anonymous said...

I too find myself thinking about this issue of internalization: accepting the judgment of others, or letting such judgments define who we are. I think it's such a subtle (and common)--thing that it must be very difficult to root out or overcome. And sometimes it's even a good thing--don't all children get a sense of who they are and their self-worth initially from hearing "good girl" etc. from their parents? Anyway, the idea makes me appreciate all the more both what had to be overcome in the civil rights campaign, and the achievement of people like King.

Michael said...

I think Huck is able to overcome his sense of moral education because of his first hand experience. By living with Jim on a raft, he sees and knows that Jim a person that deserves freedom and basic rights just like anyone else. Perhaps "moral education" is only applicable to a certain point in one's life. We can be taught that violence is wrong and freedom is right, but it can only resonate within us once we see it first hand. Freedom is something we all take for granted; it isn't until we see the extremes that we begin to realize how wonderful basic rights are.