Hit Me With Your Best Shot

A month of thanks…

My grandfather Valentine emigrated to America from Poland. I grew up being called a “dumb Polack”. I heard every imaginable dumb Polack joke. One never considers the long term or hidden effects of prejudice and ethnic and racial slurs.

            While having a heart to heart conversation with two friends, one girlfriend said, “I feel stupid compared to you.”

            “Why?” I asked.

            “You use big words and seem to know a lot about many different things.” She said.

            It was with her words that I realized my quest for knowledge wasn’t only due to natural curiosity. I’d been trying to prove that I wasn’t a “dumb Polack.” In doing so, I had unintentionally made my friend feel stupid just as I had been made to feel stupid because of my ethnic heritage.

            Ethnic and racial slurs are NOT harmless.

            I apologized to my friend and have modified my know-it-all behavior. I remain curious, but have no need to prove myself in anything, especially at the expense of another person’s feelings.

            I’m thankful for friends who teach me lessons without the need to punch me in the arm when I act like an ass. Gosh, the bruises I’d have.

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