Thanks to everyone who commented on yesterday's maiden blog, and who e-mailed queries (see below). We are off to a very good start!
One consistent thread that was laced through just about everyone's comments was how awkward it is to use the home training you were raised with (or acquired along the way) when the people around you don’t.
Some differences are cultural. Dreamrequest, I hear you about twitching when children call grownups by their first names. I’ve visited a few private schools here in LA where it’s school policy: “we don’t want to encourage hierarchy,” the head of school told me. “We think having everyone on a first-name basis—including the faculty—gives students ownership of the school.”
I’m sure it does, but after I heard a third-grader tell a grown man “Bob, can you come over here and help me with this calculation? I’m not getting it,” I knew I couldn’t do it. Sometimes hierarchy is a good thing—it's probably a good thing in elementary school. (If my child’s college professors want to be called by their first names, that’s between him and them.)
Some are universal. GTHEFLYEST pointed out how painful it is to listen to young women loudly using language in public that would have made Sugg Knight blanch. Like you, G, it makes me wince—especially when little children are in tow. I have actually seen elderly ladies touch these girls on the arm and gently say “baby, listen to how you sound. You’re too pretty to talk like that.” And it often works. But you have to pick your time and place. And it's not just young ladies who, in a friend's grandmother's words, are "of the hue," All kinds of girls (and boys) need to clean it up. It's not just a black thing.
So, I’m curious: if you were raised Old School, have you been able to hold fast to your elders’ teachings? Holla back, and share how something someone taught you back in the day still stands you in good stead. Maybe you’ve even passed it on to the next generation. (If you have examples of how the young folk have adopted or adapted your teachings, do tell.) Write to me at email@example.com And remember: parts of your letter may be published.
Karen Grigsby Bates is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).
is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).