“We don’t see things the way they are, we see them as we are.” –Anais Nin
1. The author references the way adults are addressed as a cultural difference (pp. 76-77). When you were young, did you address adults who were of different “races” differently? What about now? Do you ever notice African-American salespersons addressing you differently because of your “race”? Personally, I cringe and often notice adult African-American men, whether a baggage clerk or sophisticated business person calling me “Mr. Richard.” How is that cultural address being taught and perpetuated? And how should I respond?
2. Experiment with the exercise on p. 91 to list the different sterotypes. Do any of your thoughts surprise you? Can you recall stories from your past that reinforce the stereotypes or bust them?
Personally, I am surprised that in thinking of these categories from when I was high school age or younger growing up in north Florida, I cannot recall anyone I knew who was Native American, Jewish, Latino, Muslim and only two Asian girls in my school from the Philipines. And even though my town was over half African American, I cannot recall the names of any children or youth my age who were “black” other than “Caveman” and “Fleetfoot Fields” which were nicknames of kids on my All-Star football team in seventh grade. The city took kids from the white and black leagues and made an integrated city team for All-Stars. That was the only chance of getting to know kids “across the tracks.” And other than Black and White, we had little diversity in my town. I often ponder how that affected my stereotypes. When I came to Emory University, people would claim someone was obviously Jewish with the name “Stein” which was totally unknown to me. Some stereotypes never took hold of me and others predominated. And certainly tv shaped much of my world view. How about you?
3. What have you done that has put you in a position to challenge the stereotypes you inherited or you assume from the culture that is 90% unnoticed? I have pushed myself to take mission trips that immerse me in other cultures and allow me to meet people from situations vastly different than my own. I encourage churches to do so with great care to understand and appreciate the cultures and environment in which our partners are living. I am so limited in putting myself in their shoes but I can attempt to immerse myself to notice.