A person’s perspectives are shaped from his life experiences – where a person has been and what he has gone through. I was reminded of this again the other day as my husband and I watched TV.
My husband is Hispanic. He was raised in a rougher part of town, and didn’t have many privileges as he was growing up. I am White, and was raised in a very good neighborhood by an upper middle-class family.
What We Saw
As we watched TV, we both saw the same commercial, and had two totally different perspectives – I thought that was amazing. The commercial shows two women in a store, one with a little girl. The woman with the girl wears a black T-shirt that has the words “Child Abuser” printed on the front. The two women are talking, and the other woman is clearly horrified that the little girl’s mother is wearing a shirt that declares her as a child abuser. The narrator asks, “Wouldn’t it be nice if it were this easy to tell who the child abusers are?” or something to that effect. Then the narrator goes on to tell people to trust their instincts – if they think child abuse might be going on, they should report it.
How We Understood It
Now when I saw this commercial, I got the message that even though the girl’s mother was obviously a white middle class respectable-looking parent, no one would guess that she’s a child abuser, but she very well could be. As evidenced by the other woman’s shock in reading the label on her shirt. The message was that you can’t tell if someone is an abuser by the way they look or who they may appear to be. I thought that was a good message.
My husband, on the other hand, was outraged by the commercial’s message – the one he clearly heard. It was telling people to trust their instincts and report their suspicions about possible child abuse. But it said nothing about facts, or proof, or any physical evidence whatsoever. It just addressed INSTINCTS. He said this was a very dangerous commercial – a report of child abuse is a very serious thing, and could have devastating consequences. It is not something to accuse someone of without facts.
And I had to agree. But I didn’t think of that angle, because I hadn’t had much experience throughout my life with false accusations, and being a minority in a society predominantly governed by the white population, where many things happen that aren’t fair.
Learn to Appreciate Our Differences
It certainly opened my eyes to how we each can see the same world in a different light, depending on who we are and where we’ve been. And we should all remember our different backgrounds when we are dealing with a diverse population in our day-to-day lives. A little understanding goes a long way in helping to bridge our differences!