Racism is a learned thing.
That is a strong statement indeed. But a statement that I truly believe as a learned behavior in our modern world. As far into my past as I can remember, my first memories were of joy, colours, support, caring, creativity and learning.
Growing up on a remote ranch in Southern Alberta, some of my first contact with the outside world was through our three channels on our television. Here I was introduced to the likes of Sesame Street (originally the Children's Television Workshop), The Friendly Giant, Mr. Dressup, The Littlest Hobo, just to name a few. Through these portals of light, colour, action, stories, songs, movement and texture, I was immersed in a world that not only shared it's love and compassion for learning the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colours, but also different cultures and genders and how everything connects to everything.
When there were serious conversations to happen, they were discussed and feelings were shared to evoke a deeper understanding of the differences that we do notice in our skin colour, our body parts, and even the way we communicate and think. Through these analog airwaves of television signals I was learning how relationships of difference CAN come together to co-exist and create a rainbow, so to speak, of our humanity and world on a universal scale.
It wasn't until entering out in the world beyond these televisions shows, and yes this does included my own family, relatives and neighbours and town, but the physical contact with the world near me, did I begin to realize that the way we interact with these differences is so dramatically different. From the beliefs of religion, growing up Catholic I was informed in the ways of the Roman Catholic Church, to the beliefs of a small town ranching community, to family traditions and values I began to see a world different than these multicoloured-textured-sounding beings on the television shows I had been introduced to.
Our values, our belief systems, our moral compass, is generally in limbo until about the age of 6 to 9 and then then it becomes more solidified and innately present for the rest of our adult lives. Those beginning years are the years of molding and of fostering the underlying core values. I believe that the beginning of my young mind was helped along by the diversity of these beautifully coloured and multi-textural and co-creating beings, and I'm eternally grateful. And a special thanks to Bert and Ernie for sharing the values of two awesome guys living together and cohabitating with all of their ups and downs on a little street called Sesame.