Remember the book "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum? Even if you didn't read the book I'm sure you've seen the list which includes things like "Share everything. Play Fair. Say you're SORRY when you hurt somebody." and so on.
Last week two of my friends posted things on Facebook that young children in their lives said and they are so remarkably similar that I couldn't not talk about it. These friends of mine don't know each other at all.
Friend A has a six-year-old niece who has lived in Japan most of her life but is currently in the United States. She wrote this: "[my niece] suddenly says "No more Racism!" and just as I am wondering where that came from, starts telling me about Rosa Parks and how she was friends with Martin Luther King. She tells me with a lot of concern in her voice about how there were water fountains for whites and a separate one for others. She is learning a lot here in the US... lots of big words and big concepts. Her school class is a very mixed group of races so she can see the results of Rosa Parks and MLK's actions..."
Friend B has a five-year-old daughter who said "Some laws are good. I mean, like that speed limit thing. But some laws are bad. Like when white people went to white schools and black people went to black schools. I would be sooooo mad if we still had that bad law. And if I grow up and I love a girl, I think I should be able to marry her. That's a bad law. I mean it. Why do people make bad laws?"
As grown-ups, we make things so much more complicated than they need to be. And I'm reminded again that racism (or any kind of -ism) is not intrinsic. It's learned.