Over the past few months, our communities, our state and our nation have engaged in a difficult and painful discussion about race relations. The discussion has been emotional, and one many people would prefer not to have at all. However, what is sometimes missing is not the discussion but understanding how we got to this point and that each of is responsible to future generations.

The issue of responsibility came to me during a recent weekend trip. My wife, Nancy, and I drove to Westchester County to pick up my oldest daughter and two of our granddaughters to go to a birthday party for my second daughter who lives in Maine. The snow was getting heavy that day, so we stayed in Westchester and drove up the next morning.

When we got to my daughter's house, we took great comfort and joy in playing with our two grandchildren, one who is 2 1/2 years old and one who is 6 months old. Our oldest, Maddie, showed us her doll, Doc McStuffins, who did not leave her side. Dottie "Doc" McStuffins is an animated series on the Disney Channel about a girl who has the ability to use magic to take care of her toys.

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We watched Doc McStuffins on the Disney Channel that afternoon, ate dinner with Doc McStuffins at the table, put Doc McStuffins to bed in her own bed next to my granddaughter's bed. Doc McStuffins, of course, joined us on our trip to Maine, where she was joined by a second Doc McStuffins, who is a great friend of our third granddaughter.

Now none of this would be of great interest to anyone who has had children or grandchildren except for the responsibility we all share in the state of race relations of our nation. For those of you who do not know, Doc McStuffins is African American, a fact which I am sure is of no interest at my granddaughters. All they see is a doll, one which provides enjoyment -- for them and their grandparents.

The question, though, is what responsibility does my generation and the generation of her parents have to try and make our grandchildren see that race is not the only way to judge someone? We are the ones to whom race is the only thing we see, when we interact, when we walk down the street, when meet new neighbors who look different from we do.

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I am sure that my granddaughters and Doc McStuffins will continue to have a great time together, making sure that all toys are in good health, both physically and emotionally. How can we make sure that we do the same for our fellow humans, or can we only do so with dolls?

Mitchell H. Pally is the chief executive of the Long Island Builders Institute, a trade association.