Like many, I discovered this image through social media where it was originally attributed to the recent events in #Charlottesville, Virginia. As many have since reported, the law enforcement uniforms seem to be older than 2017 and the origin of the photo has been tracked down to an incident in Gainesville* from the 90s. While that piece of information as it relates to facts is important the picture holds power in the sense that it captures the tension of our current reality in the United States.
In my view this picture screams to the responsibility and high calling of parenting. The age-old question of nature verses nurture is being challenged in this photo as the child has no concept of what they are wearing or representing and curiosity is driving the young one to cross the line of philosophical division that their parents are raising them under. The photograph stands as a piece of history as well as a moving piece of art with themes of innocence, racism, humanity and the tension that still exists in our society.
That this picture is possible in modern and progressive civilization is disturbing to say the least. And yet, if like me you are disturbed or surprised perhaps we should do a better job of listening. We have come so far and yet we have so much further to go. Rather than become bleak about the implications of this photograph, the power of the image should speak to all parents in relationship to their essential work in shaping the foundation of values for those developing minds in their care. The negative messages in our culture have so much volume and frequency that it is difficult not to lean towards a fatalistic view of humanity. Yet, there is great hope in this same photograph in that first there is a force within this young child that transcends their social programming and secondly, as much as parenting can be a foundation for negative messaging it also has great potential for positive momentum. If you are a parent and you wonder how you can make a difference in the world, your greatest force for good in the world is developing under your umbrella of influence.
A child’s nature includes a proclivity towards being a stinker which all parents are familiar with, but the roots of racism have to be watered (nurtured) by family, friends and social affirmation. Even though parents are tired from the 24/7 duties of parenting and may doubt whether there is much more that can be done with the limited time that they have, there is hope. By being intentional with those essential years that the young humans in our care are within our direct sphere of influence we can have a significant and enduring impact on making the world suck less (#MTWSL). If you are a parent who is doing their best to handle their business and raise humans that will be a force for good in the world – keep doing good things!
*From what we could find, this photo originated from a KKK rally held on September 5, 1992 and is credited to Todd Roberston, read more from Poynter HERE.
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