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12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave

You don’t have to be a huge movie-going fan to know that the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture was “12 Years a Slave,” a riveting historical drama film adapted from the1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, an African American male born in the free state of New York. Solomon was kidnapped and sold into slavery for twelve years before he regained his freedom.

We have at our disposal a new, excellently crafted piece of work that takes us on our own emotional journey as we enter Solomon’s life on the big screen. We are witness to the horrific truth of how people treated each other based on the color of their skin; the miserable practice of slavery in this country. Perhaps one of the reasons for the popularity of the movie is that we can walk away with a sense of relief and happiness in the fact that we have progressed as a people and grown in our compassion and understanding and most of all, our humanity. We can pride ourselves in developing further along the way emotionally and learning to love and care for each other more. Right?

Sadly and unfortunately, not! In a recently published study that appeared in The British Journal of Developmental Psychology, children as young as 7 years of age reported that they believed black children feel less pain than white children do. The study was performed at the University of Virginia and indicates continued racial biases.

Children Playing

Children Playing

Another bias that shows up repeatedly involves the preference for children (both black and white) to play with friends of their own race. What we, as a humanitarian society need to look at, is what type of interventions do parents and teachers need to employ regularly in order to prevent the biases from happening.

The new batch of studies shows that if we are to have any positive method of preventing these biases, the interventions have to occur well before a child reaches the age of ten. The younger the child is, the better; because we are seeing strong biases already existing in 7-year-olds.

I can’t think of any better way to express it than Lieutenant Cable. Some of you may remember the name from the magical team of Rogers and Hammerstein and their sensational presentation, South Pacific, all the way back in 1949.

South Pacific

South Pacific

“You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

From the looks of things, maybe we haven’t really progressed as much as we think we have when it comes to certain things.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

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