Example number one – they are not wearing velour knickers. (If I ever find the picture I’ll post it. I promise.)
Example number two – they do not have bowl haircuts. (Leading people to believe they are boys, even when they are wearing earrings, which boys most certainly did not do in 1979.)
Example number three – they take people for who they are with little to no assessment of issues or concepts that are present in the minds of previous generations. Like, Grace has a friend with two moms. She knew this for a long time, but I don’t think it even occurred to her that they were gay. They were just two moms. It wasn’t for a year or so of being friends with this girl before she started figuring out that there might be a little more to it – like, that they are homosexuals: two moms, instead of a mom and dad. But once I explained that sometimes women love women, and men love men, she just kind of said, “okay” and shrugged her shoulders. No big deal.
Lauren got a new student in class this week. She came home on his first day and told me his name, that he was really nice and that he got cupcakes the first day because it was someone’s birthday. I asked what he looked like, mainly because I have daughters, so I don’t know the boys as well. They’re all about the same size and with the same sticky-up hair, so I can’t always keep their names straight. Here’s her description: “He has brown skin, black hair and he’s fat.” Okay. I know she means he’s a black kid, but I also know that she doesn’t know that word. Black. She has other black students at school, and in her life. But it seems to me that she doesn’t really think of that. They are just people who look a little different than her uber-white blondness.
This is how I wish the world could be. In my experience, there are a lot of people who look at things the same way as Grace and Lauren – their first thought is of someone’s friendliness or something like that, not that they are black, gay, or whatever else. But there are also a lot of people whose first classification of people is black, gay, or whatever else that is different from them. I’m a white girl – what do I know about racism? Not much, other than that it still exists. I wish it didn’t. But all I can do about it is teach my children that people are people. It seems to be working. So maybe not only will my kids continue to be cooler than me, but the whole next generation will be cooler than the one before it.