Yes, my parents are that backward. Really, just my dad. My mother is an RN and always taught me that, “on the inside, we all bleed the same color.” So I always thought I was brought up with this liberal, one-color-fits-all kind of attitude toward people. I learned from her to judge people based on who they are and how they treat me and others – not on external factors like skin color, or even religion or sexual orientation. Thus, I am, as an adult, friends with all walks of life. And thank my mother daily for inheriting her accepting, tolerant, open-minded attitude.
Recently, my dad came to Florida to visit me. This is North Florida, where the severely racist term, “Cracker” was invoked back in the day. The black to white ratio here is a lot different than that in Ohio, where Dad lives. So we go to Taco Bell (inside to eat - EGAD!) a couple blocks from my house.
On the way home, dad sez, “Is this the ghetto neighborhood?”
Me: Not particularly, why?
Dad: All the workers there were black!
Me: That’s because this city – and the South in general – is much more desegregated than up North. Remember all those marches in the 60’s? That was a bunch of Yankees who hopped a bus to the Deep South to shove our morals down the throats of Southern Culture. We did it to them but didn’t practice what we preached. Here, we all live together in the same neighborhoods down here and get along and all that. Hey, didn’t Jesus teach you not to judge other people, that “As I have loved you, love one another?” Shouldn’t you lay off the snap judgements about people until you get to know them? I thought you called yourself a Christian?
Dad: Hrumph. [silence]
See, my Dad never voiced this kind of bigoted opinion until I was older – college or later. I don’t think he wanted to teach me to be a bigot, but once he realized I was forming my own opinions and making my own decisions, he stopped thinking that his comments would influence mine. Which they don’t… anymore! IMHO, your dad is doing the same thing. Just revealing what he thought to be true, only never in front of your other parental unit(s).
I’m okay with you pitying him … I kinda pity my dad too (I love him – even if he is a misogynistic, homophobic, bigoted, holier-than-thou Jesus Freak! I call him, “the God Squad.”). At the same time, try to accept that he was raised in a different time, with different values and will probably not ever change. His opinions are set in his mind and if anyone voices anything different, well then it’s just plain wrong. Be glad that you have learned the ability to remain open-minded!