“Baby don’t touch it, it’s dirty”, I said while my two-and-a-half year old daughter gave me an amused look, as if to say i-know-what-i-am-doing-please-carry-on-with-your-work. She had picked up some tiny particles of the floor and was very happy to have found this treasure. Her reply made me feel like the most racist person in the world – “But, yeh black nahi hain” (This is not black). I suddenly realised that unconsciously and unfortunately, I was telling her that black is dirty.
More often than not, I have instructed her to stay away from things that I wont want her to touch saying “see, its black-black, chee chee, it’s dirty”. So unconsciously and unfortunately I was trying to encrypt in her mind that anything black is to be abhorred. And it was only when she said it in as many words, did I realise the blunder. I am afraid even now, I have to be conscious about not using derogatory, but nevertheless, I am conscious now definitely. A good start may be?
These kind of prejudices are so ingrained in us, it’s like we have been schooled very well to think that way, that we don’t even know we are practicing it in our day-to-day language, culture and practices there by making it so normal – almost making it rule.
How do we get away with it? How do be filter and fine tune all that we do, speak and practice. And will that really ensure that children grow up to be adults who are perhaps are free of all kinds of prejudices? Or will it only be a lesson on speaking a politically correct language? I don’t know, what I do know is language is a very powerful tool of expression and is a reflection of the school of thought you follow. For kids, words are the gateways to the world around. So may be, it would be advisable to pay attention to the words we choose to convey any message. To begin with..