Saturday, December 8, 2007

Diversity 101

My home state, Kentucky, has a hillbilly reputation. People who live in other parts of the country tend to think of folks here as redneck, backwoods folk who lack in dental care and love on their cousins. It's easy to see why, thanks to television interviews with tornado survivors and movies like Deliverance. We're really not that way. We wear shoes, most of us have teeth and we do not marry within our own families. We're also not racist bigots, although that attachment to the rebel flag some southerners have leads people to paint us all with the same red brush. Oh, we have pockets of racism, but we're pretty much like the rest of the country. We have our struggles, debates and slow growth, but overall, most of us are trying to do the right thing.

The Hula's consider themselves pretty diverse in thinking. We try to love everybody regardless of age, race, gender or religion. Once in a while we stumble. Like the other day when I was talking with some friends about Little People, Big World and was surprised to hear how much money the father on that tv show makes. I realized I was surprised because I assumed he made less as an actor because of his size. I was appalled and confused by my assumption. Do I have some kind of little people bias and don't know it? It just goes to show that we all have prejudices or flawed opinions that need to be worked on, and our diversity lessons never end. Mama J. gives us a little diversity lesson every Christmas, and she doesn't even know it. She does it with wrapping paper.

She gives little thought to holiday wrapping paper. That's because she buys whatever is on the clearance shelf at the Dollar Store right after Christmas. She grabs it without looking, stashes it away for twelve months and drags it out in early December. She then wraps her packages rather hastily. The theme of her wrapping paper has been a little interesting the last two years because of this practice. Year before last, everything was wrapped in paper that featured black Santas. Kind of ironic, given that we're probably the palest group of people you'll ever see in one room at any given time. Last year, our gifts were covered in blue paper covered in dreidels. Yes, she wrapped Christmas presents in Hanukkah paper, and didn't have a clue why we thought that was funny. We're taking bets on what this year's theme will be. Latino perhaps? Do they make Canadian paper? Or maybe something Asian. We've come to enjoy her reckless wrapping. We get a good chuckle out of it, and it gets us talking about heritage and race. That's a good thing. And fortunately my black and Jewish friends see the humor in it, too.

1 comment:

Jason said...

I loved this post. First, thank you for clairifying what people in Kentucky are really like, as I have never been there. It's so easy to make sweeping generalizations about people and places. Since you have no picture on your blog and we've never met, I assumed you were probably shoeless and toothless, and that you were fathered by your cousin. :)

Second, Mama J. sounds like a lot of fun. I love her unknowing lesson in diversity!