We very much need to normalize admitting we didn’t know something and that when we do learn it, we will do better. ESPECIALLY when it comes to the younger generation teaching us things that sometimes we find embarrassing to admit we didn’t know or understand.
I’ve talked about this topic before, and this is the “safe” example I always use when I talk about this, it’s the one that makes me look good on paper and so I’m sure you’ve heard me say it or read me write it before. But stick around for the new hotness I’m adding to the story.
I remember as a young person who did not really understand the AIDS crisis…I would use “he’s got AIDS” as a generic insult meaning someone was gross or creepy. Now, I am a parent of a gay man and both my 12-year old and my 15-year old can repeat my outrage over the cost of PrEP and how young poor gay men are still vulnerable when they shouldn’t be just because preventive medicine is cost-prohibitive in areas without charitable support systems in place.Me, all the time, because it proves my point without being too embarrassing
Here’s the thing, there’s another part to that story that I’m always too embarrassed to admit. And in the effort to prove how important it is that we normalize learning new things and behaving better after we learn them (instead of doubling down on our ignorance) I am going to share that embarrassing part of that story that I always leave out.
I didn’t know what PreP was before maybe 2018? I am *mortified* that – as a parent of a gay man – I had to be taught about that drug and it’s salvation and it’s cost. You can guess who had to teach me and you can guess how embarrassing that was that I didn’t know. Even as I type this I’m ashamed. How did I raise a gay son in the post-AIDS era and never learn about PrEP? How was I ignorant to one of the most important medical advancements in the fight against AIDS? I deserved to have my Rainbow Mom badge taken away for that.
My point is? When you learn something new or when you hear a new perspective, you need to embrace that knowledge and learn/grow/adjust. I follow a lot of very young activists on TikTok and this weekend I saw TWO popular accounts post videos admitting they were wrong about something that was “not in their lane” and they admitted they were wrong and called out the importance of the correction issued to them.
Do you know how often I see people my age do that? RARELY/NEVER.
We need to all normalize that process and admit when we learn things. I never knew about the racism in the criminal justice system until after Trayvon Martin’s murderer was acquitted in 2013. I WAS 35 YEARS OLD. I didn’t realize that Transgender Women have to voice-train, that estrogen doesn’t affect the voice, until…maybe 2 years ago? I didn’t know the m-word was hurtful until…maybe 3 years ago? I also used to pull my eyes into a slant to make fun of any East-Asian people when I was a kid. I had to be taught very recently that the phrase “overweight” is not endorsed by the fat liberation movement.
Yes, it’s embarrassing…ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES FROM YOUR KIDS. Y’all…mine are brutal. BRUTAL. I do my best to sit in the discomfort of correction and to grow. But, I rarely admit the recent/embarrassing stuff publicly. This is what I’m doing now. I’m letting you know I falter all the time, but I refuse to double down in shame. I will continue to grown and learn.