Media and My Student. Several years ago, I gave a lecture on conditioning. I mentioned how many of our attitudes are shaped by our learning experiences. After class, one girl lingered until everyone left. She approached me cautiously with a few obvious tears and said “Thank you.”
I told her “Your welcome.” Now tell me what I did that deserved your thanks.
She told me she was a native of Germany. Her father was an executive at a chemical plant owned by a German corporation, located near Mobile. The family moved here when she was young.
One day her father took her to see his work. They toured the plant and then went to his office. Her father had a special friend he wanted her to meet, so he had her remain in the office while he went to get the friend.
When he returned, she took one look at his special friend and shrieked in fear. She was very frightened. She embarrassed her father. She embarrassed the friend. She was living with the guilt of that event for years.
She did not understand the fear until she realized the source. My lecture made the source clear to her and she did not have to feel guilt.
The friend was a member of the Choctaw tribe, native to the area near the plant. As a young girl, this was her first close encounter with a Native American and she was very frightened. She thought something was wrong with her.
My lecture helped her understand that her attitude was learned. She realized her exposure to Native Americans prior to the personal visit was in the movies and television. In those experiences Native Americans were portrayed as savages to be feared. She learned to be afraid of them from her associations through the media. The problem was the inappropriate media representation of Native Americans and not her.
She understood from where her fear came. She did not have to feel guilty any longer. She was thankful.
Maybe her example will clarify one of your past unnecessary fears.
Media and Me. In recalling this incident, I began to reflect about my own life. This week, a good friend and mother of a reader of this blog died and other friends found out they are facing serious cancer battles. Those problems, in addition to COVID deaths, my stroke, our aging and Jeny’s struggles are weighing on me and working against being positive. My faith brings me joy, but I wanted to understand my battle at a deeper level.
I wondered if the media was affecting me in a similar manner to my student. I took the time to examine the Yahoo headlines for one day: toddler killed, China threatening Taiwan, Pennsylvania teens planning massacre on the 25th anniversary of Columbine, national debt limit looming, possible government shut-down, the Chiefs lost and on and on and on; plenty of bad news from just one day. Even a Ryder Cup victory was not joy enough to overcome all of the negative news.
A Change. I realized I was letting myself be bombarded by negativity. I googled positive news. I was pleasantly surprised to find several sources. Some of the sites have a bias as to the nature of good news but the articles are still good news. A few of the sources are:
I have entered all of them in my favorites bar and now read positive news before I turn to Yahoo.
Evidence. In order to understand the difference in my day, compare the following headlines taken from positive news sources to the earlier ones:
Non-profit aides Ida victims.
Woman stranded in Washington D.C. flood rescued by a bus of Marines.
A checkout line where slower is better; supermarket opens a chat checkout line to combat loneliness.
Olympian auctioning her silver medal to raise money for a boy’s heart surgery.
Local ham radio operator saves a friend’s life hundreds of miles away.
Police officer in Washington D.C. saves 9 lives his first year on the job.
Watch the sweet way a little girl greets her big brothers after school.
Oldest WWII vet celebrates his 112th birthday.
Ice center creates snow so dying dog can enjoying it one more time.
Artist send nonverbal autistic boy the butterfly machine that brought him so much joy.
After my morning devotion, reading articles with positive headlines helps me have a better start to my day. Try it, you might like it.
Jeny. She is slowly but nicely recovering from her fourth treatment. Next one in two weeks. Only two to go.
What is the etymology of the word race?
According to most scholars, the word race can be traced to the French word rasse and the Italian word razza. The word entered the English language in the 1500’s
The original use of the word was used to distinguish an identifiable group of people. Some thought it to be people with a common ancestry. The implication was race was a biological trait.
However, modern anthropologists are clear, race is not a physical trait. Race is a social construct. An important construct but a construct and not a trait. Thus, in a clear sense race is not alive. It is not a virus; not bacteria.
Since race is not a living trait, racism is not either. Racism is also a social construct. Therefore, in a sense racism is not alive and well. Racism is a useful term within certain context, but it is not alive.
From the beginning race was used for derogatory purposes. More on that topic next time.