“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It’s a question that every kid hears in school, and is forced to answer in some way. Usually, they give an answer like “doctor,” “teacher”, or “fireman”. Kids have big dreams, right? They need role models to help them achieve those dreams, don’t they?
Actually, I would argue that they don’t. Yes, kids do need somebody to look up to. They are frightened, inquisitive creatures trying to make sense of the world. But what, necessarily, do those role models need to be?
I hear liberals arguing all the time that the biggest problem with our society (among pretty much everything else they talk about) is that girls and children of color are lacking in role models in the right professions to inspire them to rise up in said professions. This, of course, is touted as a defense of affirmative action. To this theory, I say…baloney.
Okay, maybe as a white male, I do have an ax to grind when it comes to affirmative action. But when you think about it logically, just how necessary is affirmative action? Also, is it the best solution? I’d argue that we should make college admissions, job applications, etc. an anonymous process in which only one’s credentials are visible to whoever’s making the decision, but that’s beside the point.
I know of a man, and I’m sure you’ve all heard of him. Though I don’t talk about him often (which I’ll admit I ought to remedy), he is one of my heroes. He was a famous jazz musician who did vocals and the trumpet. Throughout his life, he was treated constantly like a second-class citizen. While most people would become bitter in the face of such hardship, he just kept on going, pursuing his dream of becoming a renowned musician. He made the big time, and where most people would let their riches go to their heads, he didn’t. He was generous, and he never used his wealth or power to hurt anybody. While I personally have no interest in pursuing a career in the music industry, I hope to be more like Louis Armstrong. Yes, one of my biggest heroes is a black man. Crazy, huh?
When it comes down to it, if you want to look up to somebody, they don’t need to be somebody exactly like you. In fact they won’t be, because there IS nobody exactly like you. Kids don’t need to have people of their own sex in their dream profession in order to excel. Marie Curie didn’t exactly have renowned female scientists preceding her.
Should we really refuse to emulate somebody’s behavior pattern just because they’re a different sex or race then us? No, that would be sexist…and racist.