We are More Alike than Unalike
It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.
Dr. Maya Angelou
I love this picture. It captures the essence of Maya Angelou’s quote. I can’t remember having an awareness of skin color or cultural difference before I entered the first grade. We were all just kids, playing and having fun. In 1970, my parents gave me a “Baby Know it All” doll for Christmas. I had never really thought about it until I opened the box – this was the first time I saw a doll that didn’t have blonde hair or white skin. Although she was African American, I immediately felt that she was much more like me than my other dolls. Her hair and eyes were dark, like mine.
The first time I took her outside to play, she became an instant celebrity. We were the only non African-American family in my neighborhood, which is relevant only in terms of the reaction. Like me, my friends had only seen dolls that were white. The fact that there is still so little diversity in dolls baffles me. My parents gave not only me – but my friends a gift far greater than the doll.
My first exposure to prejudice was in 1971 when opponents of mandated busing firebombed ten school buses in my town. I remember hearing adults talk about the bombing and opposition. When I finally started first grade in the school across town, things had already started to change. For the first time, I started to hear parents talking about not wanting us bused into “their” school system. Most of the kids I remember played well with each other. It always seemed to be the parents that had the hardest time adjusting.
Because I grew up in a primarily African-American neighborhood, I had already experienced first-hand that we are all more alike than unalike. Our parents loved us, worked hard, and wanted a better life for us. I really didn’t see how we were different. Maybe it was the diversity, maybe it was something small and subtle like a doll that helped shape my views as a child. Whatever it was, I am forever grateful.
The title for this post was inspired by the last line of the poem “Human Family” by Dr. Maya Angelou, which simply states –
” We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.”