pameladlloyd: Horton the Elephant, from Dr. Suess' book, Horton Hears a Who (A Person's a Person)
Today, I've read three blog posts about prejudice back-to-back. The first is a first-hand narrative of an American woman of Arab and Jewish descent, Shoshana Hebshi, who, along with two Indian men, was detained and held by police yesterday. All three were strangers who happened to be seated next to each other on a flight to Detroit, and someone on the plane reported the three individuals as suspicious. The second describes the difficulties authors Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown have faced in their attempts to find representation for their collaboration, which has as one of its characters a young man who is gay, and links to yet another case in which author Jessica Verday was told that her story would be published in an anthology only if she changed the sex of one of the characters, so that a relationship involving that character would be between a male and female, instead of between two males.

Ms. Hebshi's post, Some real Shock and Awe: Racially profiled and cuffed in Detroit, on her blog Stories from the Heartland, is quite upsetting. So far as I can tell from her description of the incident, the police and Homeland Security (I HATE the name of that department!) personnel did what they were required to do without excessive force or deliberate prejudice, but it was clearly prejudice that brought their attention to Ms. Hebshi and the two other passengers who were detained. You can contrast Ms. Hebshi's story with articles detailing the incident in which she was involved and a similar incident on another plane at No charges against 3 detained at Detroit airport and Military jets safely escort NYC, Detroit flights.

It makes me sad and angry to know that ten years after the attack on the Twin Towers, many Americans are not only still living in fear, but with such a strong level of prejudice that they feel the need to see suspicious activity where there isn't any. This is such a sad commentary on what has become of our nation in the last decade. We need to fight prejudice, not imaginary enemies.

In Rachel Manija Brown's and Sherwood Smith's account of censorship regarding LGBTQ characters in a YA novel, one statement jumped out at me: "silence, however well-motivated and reasonable […] allows the problem to flourish." One of those authors, Sherwood Smith, has been a LiveJournal friend of mine for some years. Her posts, often about writing, have consistently been thoughtful and thought-provoking.

It seems crazy to me that now, when we've known for decades that homosexuality is genetic and natural—it is also found in many other species from birds to primates, when people are finally beginning (again, the history is really interesting) to have the legal right to marry, when it's been well-publicized that homosexual teens are at high risk for suicide due to their feelings of isolation and rejection, when electronic books and self-publishing are threatening traditional publishing (so, limiting your books to "safe" books means cutting out yet another chunk of the market), that anyone in the publishing industry thinks they need to censor the sexual orientation of teens. People, get a clue! Homosexuality is neither a character flaw, nor a disease. Kids won't change their orientation, just because they read about characters with a different orientation in a book or story. They won't "catch" a different orientation, just because they read about it.

But, reading books with LGBTQ characters can help LGBTQ teens feel less alone. And, reading books with LGBTQ characters can help straight teens recognize that being gay is neither wrong, nor dangerous. Maybe, just maybe, reading books with LGBTQ characters will save someone's life.

Prejudice. We all experience it; that's part of being human. Treating people right? That's also part of being human, or it should be, and I hope that we, all of us, every single one of my cousins on this planet—and that's all of you, can learn to overcome the impulse to prejudice, and replace that with actions that reflect kindness and respect for everyone.
pameladlloyd: Horton the Elephant, from Dr. Suess' book, Horton Hears a Who (A Person's a Person)

Thanks, Andrea Kuszewski, for your post on Google+, directing your followers to your Science 2.0 blog post, Don't Shelter Your Children: Coping With Stress As A Child Develops Resilience And Emotion Regulation As An Adult.

It's hard to find the right balance between giving our children the freedom to develop confidence and the shelter they need from truly harmful experiences. Beyond that, it's impossible to truly shelter our children. Life is full of stress and many of the experiences that cause stress are entirely out of control. Certainly, I know that my own children had far more stress in their early lives than I would have chosen for them, most of it arising from issues over which I had very little control. That said, I have recognized a pattern of growing protectiveness from generation to generation in our society.

Helen Keller once said, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

In general, children growing up in the first half of the twentieth century (my parents' generation) were far less supervised than I was, and my childhood was less supervised than my children's. This trend toward protectiveness, which I believe has moved into overprotectiveness in many ways, has been paralleled by changes in playground equipment and activities. The "normal" bumps and bruises, and even broken bones, of childhood are no longer seen as acceptable. It's rare to see the tetherballs, jungle gyms, merry-go-rounds, and teeter-totters that were in every park and schoolyard when I was a kid. The trampoline classes I took with my brothers at the YMCA summer camp, are getting to be as rare as hen’s teeth, since most schools and activity clubs have eliminated the trampoline from their equipment, due to the expense of insurance. (Ironically, more families than ever have trampolines in the backyard, which means that kids are actually less safe because they probably aren’t getting the right supervision or training.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of broken bones and I required my kids to wear helmets when they rode their bicycles, and helmets, knee, and elbow pads when they skated on the sidewalk in front of our house. Still, sometimes I wonder if all the emphasis on safety is worth it, when it means our children's lives become more and more restricted.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (girl in toga)
I've been reading a number of journal posts recently about recent actions threatening free speech in association with our national conventions:

Repression in Everyday Life via [ profile] pecunium

today's dispatch via [ profile] catherineldf

Permibus Seized via [ profile] permibus

Bill of Rights? via [ profile] mmerriam

From these posts, you can follow links to news articles about these events. I find this sort of thing really scary. I love my country and its constitution.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (girl in toga)
Sometimes, I think it's a good idea to step back and look at how we see ourselves as Americans and what independence, freedom, and democracy mean to us. I know that my attitudes were mostly formed by experiences in my childhood, although they are also informed, I hope, by more mature thought.

More here )

I'm really interested in what others think about this subject, so please share your memories, beliefs, and feelings.


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