If you happened to catch Alexandra Wallace’s racist ranting on YouTube last week, I’m pretty sure you were as appalled as I was—and if you were fortunate enough to miss it, here’s the gist: Ms. Wallace, a (now former) UCLA student, recorded herself saying some pretty awful things about Asian students in her university’s library, where she happened to be studying.
I’ll be honest; in addition to eliciting tremendous anger, this triggered another wave of neurotic, how am I ever going to help Lily deal with all kinds of people (especially the mean ones!) when I would probably feel more comfortable if she lived as a very safe shut-in feelings that have plagued me since, well, forever. Because while I have always admired those who handle conflict with bravery and integrity, I am embarrassed to say that—in my younger days, at least—I was always more inclined to take the bury-my-head-in-the-sand-like-an-ostrich approach. (And really, I’m just kidding about the shut-in thing. Sort of.)
But Jimmy Wong’s response saved the day—and my sanity. And while his song and accompanying music video (watch it here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/03/24/134827618/jimmy-wong-wants-to-give-alexandra-wallace-a-big-hug?sc=fb&cc=fp) made me laugh, it was his compassion in this NPR interview—and the declaration that bullying begets bullying and prevents real, necessary change from taking place—that makes me proud of my generation and optimistic that the standard societal response to ignorance (and even really, really embarrassing and revealing mistakes like the one Alexandra made) will continue to get even funnier, smarter, and much, much kinder by the time Lily’s old enough to participate in that sort of dialogue.
That’s my hope, at least. But rest assured I’m building quite the collection of bubble wrap, bike helmets, and books about I-messages, just in case things go downhill and I have no choice but to lock the baby away until I feel that it’s safe for her to come out again.