Thursday, July 31, 2014

Prejudice and Bigotry Are for Old Folks

Back in May I wrote a blog post about a television series called Twisted that I had become fascinated by. The program is geared toward teens and is about a group of high school kids going through a lot of teen angst and high drama. I loved the program, not for the angst and high drama, but because the cast was about as racially diverse as it could get and the characters in the story held no prejudices along those lines. The were friends and dated one another without any apparent opinions about one another's racial or cultural backgrounds. I found it hopeful.

Today I came across another sign that maybe we are out-growing the foolishness of racial prejudice and bigotry. A study published in the Journal of Applied SocialPsychology found that kids who read the Harry Potter books were far less likely to express prejudice against immigrants and people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. This is encouraging.

I read all the books and I was very charmed by the attitudes the kids in the stories had to “mudbloods” and toward “muggles.” The anti-bigotry message was clear and, though a lot of the old-folks in the book (mostly the Malfoys) were pure blood snobs, only a few of the kids were (Draco and his pals.)

To me this is very heartening news. If we can't erase prejudice and bigotry through enlightenment, maybe it will happen through attrition—the old bigots and racists will die off and the younger generations will take over. We can only hope.

I am a firm believer that the art of storytelling will triumph in the end. Uncle Tom's Cabin was one of the first American stories to open eyes to the problems of racial prejudice. It helped bring on the Civil War. To Kill A Mockingbird was another and it helped usher in the Civil Rights Movement. Now we have hope that Harry Potter and shows like Twisted will influence a new generation and encourage tolerance and diversity. Kids give me hope for a more enlightened future.

Thanks for reading.  

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