You already know that Mother had some pretty unusual preconceived notions about people. If you were Jewish, she thought you were smart. If you were Catholic, she thought you had a direct stairway to God. If you were African-American, she thought you would welcome the gift of our old clothes! Yes, she did stereotype. No, thankfully she did not try to teach her malformed ideas to others.
One of the things Lindy and I can be very grateful for is the fact that we grew up in a home without racial prejudice. Dad agreed with Martin Luther King Junior that all people should be judged by the “content of their character.” That was not just a slogan to him; it was the way he lived his life.
When Dad was growing up, his mother (my grandmother) was scared of Chinese people. She had never met one, but she believed that they carried axes and chased people. Perhaps she had managed to catch a movie somewhere. She said you should stay away from Chinese people always. Anyway, my dad thought that was a pretty funny belief and he used that story to illustrate how silly prejudice is.
During the time Dad was in the service, he began dating a Chinese woman who said she wanted to write to my grandmother. Dad had to tell her absolutely not without revealing the reason why. He thought prejudging anyone was pointless and he always treated others the way he wanted to be treated.
As a result, when I lived in Arizona, I worked for a company created by two men and a woman. One was black, one was Filipino, and the other was white. Their race made no difference in their ability to run the business and I loved that they always hired by picking the “best player.” The experience of working with all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds has enriched my life so much. Now I work with the Diversity Council of my city and help schoolchildren to celebrate the beautiful differences in our world.
So on this Martin Luther King Junior Day, we remember Dad who taught us many important lessons throughout our lives. He practiced what he preached, and he treated all people as human beings.