You are What You Hear. You are What You See.
"Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that's true!" (34-36).
It may be obvious that we learn from others and thus are sculpted by them; however, I still found this passage of the poem must thought provoking and interesting. We learn to hate, to be mean, to be racist. These are not qualities we are born with. However, as I write this I think to myself, could children be this way without being taught? Maybe children do look at each other and think they should be mean to someone else for being different from them, but is this something they learned to do?
We are sculpted by our surroundings, the people, the environment, all that we see and experience. After every difficulty we face, we are changed. Hopefully, we use the difficulty as a learning experience, one to grow from. But regardless of whether these hardships change us for the good or the bad, the fact is, we change. I do not have the statistics in front of me or the proven facts, so I am going to do some assuming here. I would assume, a child born into a racist family would be more likely to be racist over a child born into a family that believes all are equal. Perhaps children look at others wondering why they are different, not yet being mean to them for it though. These children may ask their parents, the teacher, other students, or the actual student being observed, why they look different. Whatever answer the student receives will play a role in how the questioning child perceives the different child.
We all know the saying "a child is like a sponge". Children take in all that they hear and learn, like a sponge. Maybe the same child who became curious about the different child decided to ask everyone this time, the teacher, his/her parents, other students, and the student in question, why the different child is different. Maybe the curious child used each answer to make a generalization about the different child.
I really do not know the answer to these questions. If we are not born with the ability to be mean, but rather learn to be, then who was the first person to decide to be mean to others? I mean it all had to start somewhere right?
Either way, Hughes had it right when he said, "As I learn from you/I guess you learn from me" (37-38). We take in what we learn from our teachers and that knowledge becomes a part of us. I believe the saying "children are like sponges" should be "people are like sponges". We never stop taking in what we see or hear. I also believe we never stop learning whether we want to or not. Good and bad experiences continue to occur throughout our lifetime and we are sculpted by them.