DEAR ABBY: I worked for civil rights in the '60s. My 10-year-old daughter grew up in a racially mixed church, a racially mixed neighborhood and a racially mixed school. She has studied the history of slavery, Hitler, and other examples of what bigotry can do to a society, a country and the world. I have taught her from a very young age that bigotry is wrong, period. At the tender age of 10, she has already lost friends because she will not tolerate racist remarks. I have patiently tried to explain why racism was tolerated in the past in various societies.
A few days ago my daughter asked me a question I could not answer. "Mom, why is it OK to be a racist if you're black?" She went on to cite examples of racist remarks at her school, in the media, by politicians and on TV.
As I thought about it, she is correct. Today's America does tolerate, and in a few cases, even encourages blacks to be racist against whites. We wonder why there is violence in our schools. We despair over the white supremacist movement. We call for closer family support and guidance. Why do we not cry out against racism wherever it may be found? How can we move forward as a country, as a world, if we have not learned by our mistakes?
Please, Abby, help me out here! What can I tell her? -- MY KID'S MOM
DEAR MOM: Let's not point the finger only at black Americans. Bigotry is alive and well in EVERY community because it seems that some people have a need to feel "superior."
Explain to your daughter that racism cannot be wiped out by decree. Its demise must come from the realization that we have more things in common than we do superficial differences such as skin color or a foreign-sounding accent.