Speaking up

By kateandcarla

March 28, 2011

Category: Uncategorized


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.

Just kidding.

Sort of.


2 Responses to “Speaking up”

  1. I suppose you don’t want to hear that Maggie and I have been having bullying conversations for two years now. She’s had her share of struggles with other little girls, and while at first it really broke my heart and pretty much horrified me, I guess I’ve learned to help her deal with it a little more. There’s something to be said about helping your daughter build pride and self-esteem, even if it is the result of some little girl calling her “ugly” or telling her she’s not good enough to be their friend. I’m convinced that we’re given these opportunities while our daughters are young to have these hard conversations, and we have a responsibility to empower them to be strong, confident girls. At least that’s what I’ve convinced myself. Is it working?

    • While I hate that those tough conversations have been necessary (yikes–“ugly” and “not good enough”?), I love knowing that there are kids like Maggie out there in the world, teaching the people they encounter– both little and big–about what it means to be kind, compassionate, and comfortable in your own skin. And maybe those really wonderful traits don’t really get to develop unless we (often painful) experiences that help us to understand why they’re so important.
      I think you’re right, too, that we have a responsibility to empower our girls so that they have the courage and the confidence to advocate for themselves–and so that they can help those who haven’t gotten the same message learn to do the same. But it’s really hard. Not in a whiny way, but in an “am I really qualified to take this on/ but if I don’t, who will?” kind of way.
      You guys are obviously doing a pretty amazing job– your girl is something else.

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