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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

OPINION: The problem with being ‘raised in a different time’

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Julia Thomas
(Illustration)

My grandmother has been known to say some pretty unsavory things over the years, things I don’t want to (and can’t) repeat. Mostly, her opinions can be linked to ignorance – ignorance about race, religion, gender, sexuality, everything under the sun.

After she leaves the room, my parents and I will gape at each other, and I’ll say, “How could you ever think that, much less say it to another person?” A lot of the time, I’m met with a specific answer: “She was raised in a different time.”

Well, obviously. My grandmother was born in the south in 1944. She was raised by a father who refused to teach her and her sister how to drive. She is a deeply religious woman, finding a way to work Christ into any conversation. A lot of the Sundays of my early childhood were spent with my grandma and grandpa, sometimes my mother, in a small, metal shack on the side of the highway that functioned as a nondenominational church. 

One of the last times I attended church, the sermon, for some reason, covered the end times and found a way to call certain groups the Antichrist, as well as blamed the presence of these groups for the “downfall of America.” The worst part was to look over and see my grandmother nodding along. 

And yes, she was raised in a different time. By the time I was born, she was 59. I grew up with Lightning McQueen and what she would call “fake news.” She lived through Watergate, and I watched a movie about it in high school. Our differences outnumber our similarities, and yet now we both live, have strong convictions and vote. I’m sure many parrot a similar sentiment with their older relatives. 

My grandmother has been a legal, voting adult for 71 years, and she’s lived through countless social changes. To a much lesser extent, I have, too. Being raised in the south, I just kind of assumed that I was uber-conservative, and realizing that my views did not so much align with this was a huge internal conflict for me.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, protests against police brutality spread throughout the nation. As someone who was raised by a police officer, these protests spurred some difficult conversations, and I found myself at odds with many loved ones.

In a world growing more and more tolerant, it has been a great pleasure to expand my horizons beyond the small world I grew up in.

In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation in public schools. My grandmother would’ve been 10 – barely old enough to recall segregation.

On Sept. 4, 1957, the Little Rock Nine faced discrimination trying to enter their high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to escort the students. Five days later, the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was signed into law, protecting voter rights. This all happened in the state where my grandmother was born and raised. She would’ve been 13 years old.

On Aug. 28, 1963, around 250,000 people participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. At this march, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. A minister, King incorporated scripture and religious speech to deliver his point home. My highly religious grandmother would’ve been 19 years old. 

These hugely impact events all happened early in her life. Her brain still would’ve been developing. So does she deliberately choose to be on the wrong side of history, avoidant to change? Has she wanted things to stay the same as they were when she was 9 years old? 

I would maybe be more understanding if she was resistant to every other form of change. But she’s simply not: she drives a modern car and has an iPhone. She watches TV and is an avid user of Facebook. 

And for your older family members whose prejudice gets excused by “growing up in a different time,” are they completely frozen in the world they lived in when they were young? Or do they participate in modern society? 

How long do you excuse this behavior before you, yourself, become part of the problem? If we constantly avoid uncomfortable conversations, we can’t really expect people to change with the times.

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About the Contributors
Sascha Harvey, Opinion Editor
Sascha Harvey is the opinon editor for The Sunflower. A junior majoring in graphic design, this is Harvey's third year on staff and second year as a section editor. He is originally from Arkansas but has no accent to speak of (unless you listen really hard). The graphic design major enjoys covering feature stories and local news. Harvey uses he/him pronouns.
Julia Thomas, Former illustrator/designer
Julia Thomas was a designer and illustrator for The Sunflower.

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    Nancy AmeluneOct 21, 2023 at 9:05 pm

    Excellent writing!

    Reply