Friday, July 20, 2012

Adult Learning: Never stop!

This week I learned about myself from two unlikely sources.

One was Elton John.  Not someone I have much respect for, but he did say something on NPR that, although I had heard it before, hit me in a new way.  He was talking about funding for AIDS research and cures, and how we can’t let people be “less than.”

How many times have I seen people as “less than”?  All the time.  I must truly repent of it.  Less than me, less than acceptable, less than smart, less than deserving, less than human, less than . . . .. ..

The second was a student who was giving her speech on hunting.  The student is African American.  She starts her speech talking about her southern upbringing and how she was taught to hunt by her “redneck, confederate-flag waving, tobacco-chewing white grandpa.”  OK, this was a major paradigm shift.  I couldn’t help but ask her about it; one, that she was truly ¼ white (didn’t look like it at all) and two, that she hunts (I assumed she was from Atlanta).  She’s actually quite a hunter.  So when she gave the speech for the grade, she explained her background, how her grandfather gave up his racist Alabama ways and married her grandmother who is Black, and then her mixed-raced father married a Black woman.  I applauded.  She’s a beautiful symbol that people can get over themselves. 

No more assumptions!  You don’t know people until you know them.  I, of all people, should have realized this, should have it in my core.

I don’t like to think of myself as a racist or bigot.  But every so often I am confronted with how racist and bigoted I actually am.  There is a line in a hilarious movie, Bowfinger, where Eddie Murphy’s character is ranting about how many Ks are in a script.  He says that makes it 365 KKKs.  “The sickness is deep.”  Of course, this is played for laughs, but it’s true.  The sickness of racism is deep.  I think I have an inchoate UTI that flares up on a regular basis.  I also have an inchoate racism infection that flares up and scares me quite a bit.  Where did that come from?  And what’s the answer?  Well, not so much Elton John.  More like the Word of God and a good dose f reality from all the people I am privileged to know, like my wonderful students. 

I am in a doctoral program in adult learning.  Every day I learn.  That is the only way to stay alive.

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