Sitting having tea, I heard a man freely use a hateful word about a woman, struggling to make change for him, struggling in a language not her own, struggling to smile through his impatience. I heard him use this word, this hateful, hateful word in front of a little girl. A little girl who looked at him, listening carefully and learning the ways of discrimination.
Sitting having tea, I heard a teenager freely use the 'r word' as a man with Down Syndrome walked slowly by. A man struggling to make his own way, alone and independent. A man struggling to live with dignity, struggling to keep pain off his face. A teenager out with his little brother. A little brother who thought his big brother cool, not cruel.
Sitting having tea, I am told of a clerk, a man of colour, in a store who had an odd tattoo on his inner arm. It said simply, 'I'd rather be hated for who I am.' A tattoo that must have been written on his heart long before he had it written on his arm. A man, now, struggling to ensure that all know, clearly know ... that children are carefully taught ...
Lyrics by Rogers and Hammerstein
You've got to be taught To hate and fear, You've got to be taught From year to year, It's got to be drummed In your dear little ear You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid Of people whose eyes are oddly made, And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade, You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late, Before you are six or seven or eight, To hate all the people your relatives hate, You've got to be carefully taught!