When my grandmother would tell a story involving a black person, no matter how insignificant the person or their color was to the story, she would always mentioned the “colored” person. For example, telling me a story about how she bought string beans for a casserole, she would drop in that the cashier was a “colored girl”… even though the actual action of paying for the string beans had absolutely nothing to do with the story, and the cashier certainly didn’t. It wasn’t snide. She honestly believed that it was crucial to the casserole story that I know her cashier was “a colored person”.
It became a running joke between my husband and me until she passed away. The thing is, had it not been my grandmother, I likely would have been appalled. Instead it was just one of those quirks that made her who she was. Her “colored man” drop ins were like a souvenir from growing up in the ’30s and ’40s. That’s how things were then.
My MIL, whom I’m quite fond of, if you remember, insists that she’s right about things because “that’s what I was taught”. In her mind, what she was taught is the truth, and you don’t question it because… I don’t know… you just don’t… because you were taught it.
As skeptics, we shun the default. But should we give passes to people who believe things because “that’s how they were raised”? Is that an excuse for racism or distrust of science? What are things that we’ve grown up with that our kids and grandkids might be shocked or appalled at?
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.