I’m in Tahlequah, Oklahoma this week, leading a Celebrate Oklahoma Voices digital storytelling workshop for Storychasers at Lowrey School about 30 miles north of town. This evening driving back to my hotel from dinner, I passed the following advertisements on the highway south of Tahlequah. I’m generally not a fan of advertising, but these are messages I don’t think anyone should oppose.

Teach your son to respect women

Elder Abuse is NOT the Keetoowah Cherokee Way

In case Flickr is blocked in your location, I’ll transcribe these. The first is sponsored by the Family Violence Prevention Fund and reads:

Teach your son to respect women. He’s watching. He’s waiting. He’ll listen.

The photo on the billboard is of a young boy, holding a basketball and wearing a basketball jersey which reads, “Awaiting Instructions.”

Unfortunately I know more than a few people whose fathers apparently did not share this message when they were young. The world is a tangibly worse place because those men chose to perpetuate a sexist worldview for their children to reflect and continue. Of course we all have choices about what we’ll believe and think, but many times the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The second billboard advertisement is a direct message from George Wickliffe, Chief of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians:

Elder abuse is NOT the Keetoowah Cherokee way.

This reminds me of Ed Young’s picture book, “I, Doko: The Tale of a Basket,” which I bought a couple of years ago in Shanghai, China.

Kudos to these organizations for prominently posting these public service announcements for the families and individuals in the Tahlequah community. It’s too bad we need advertisements like these, but we DO, and I think these messages are a great way to use highway billboard real estate.

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