Recently, I spent one evening and night with my son and his family, following an Endoscopy. My Daughter-in-Law drove me home. My son and his wife are around forty - with two children, a girl seventeen and a boy twelve - they are wonderfully sweet, intelligent and kind - all four of them. They live in a more conservative suburb of Tampa - and the children attend public schools (the younger child recently was moved to virtual school as he refused to attend his public school. He is artistic and I consider him to be an Indigo Child - google that if you are interested). My granddaughter is a superb student (Senior), highest grades, socially popular, smart and kind and loving - and wonderfully humble and sympathetic/empathetic to those in need. She is remarkable.
The children have always been respected and deeply loved by their parents - and vice versa. I am so proud of how they were raised. Sometimes there is friction. Sometimes there is a major crisis (intra-familial), but family members are loving and caring and it is always worked out.
I am the son of and FDR/JFK/LBJ Feminist mother and a Steelworker/Farmer father who both taught me about the social contract and the solidarity of workers and families and the US middle class/working classes, as well as the love and support society must provide to the most helpless among us.
I have been aware that the area where they live and attend school has a history of racism and racial inequality. This is Florida. When the children were younger - they and I never discussed socil issues - we discussed TV shows, artistic and school issues, how to get along at school and at the mall, as well as many mundane things. That changed recently.
Now, race relations, income inequality, Democrats v. Republicans, government dysfunction, President Obama, Student Loans, Socialism, Capitalism, etc., etc. are things they both want to talk about. They know I am a Liberal. They know I am gay and that my life has been complex - Military career, civilian career in social services, teaching years, some major personal crises, two steps forward - one step back life, etc.
I have been avoiding some of this discussion because I know that their social environment/school environment = a conservative context that makes me uncomfortable. I have little patience for racism, homophobia, xenophobia, classism and misogynism. In fact, I detest all of them.
So, when their parents were out, the children's tradition of sitting on the kitchen countertops and talking with Papa soon began. I learned things were worse than I had imagined. Racism has crept into their lives like a cancerous infection. They said to me that while they would never use the term "Colored" in public, they think that is perfectly acceptable at home. I, of course, said - "Why would you need to do that?" They parroted racist statements about food stamps and welfare and brought up the sick right wing argument that since there is a BET - there should be a Whites only network. I dould not believe they said that. I told them all commercials, all network shows, all of US culture is mostly white and blonde and one dimensional - that there already is and has been a white channel(s) - hundreds of mostly white media.
They have learned from the suburban southern (Florida) environment of people and teachers and peers, parents and careless assholes all around them, that it is ok to stereotype and judge those who are different. They feel they are being pc not to use the N word. To be honest, I finally said to the parents and the children that I was trained in the military to never use words like "colored" and and that the word "colored" offended me and I don't want them to say it in my presence. They agreed.
The US has a very long way to go, in this regard. I felt so sad driving home from my son's house yesterday. They are a loving and kind and very intelligent family. Mostly, they know how to accept others, not to judge based on prejudices and not to stereotype. I have great hope that they are not entrenched in this abominable world of white suburban Florida racism.