"The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth." NIV translation
Every one of us is really related as we could all trace our ancestry back to one of these four men (Noah or his three sons). Racial prejudice is so ridiculous because of this fact.
"Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent." NIV translation
Noah had been a farmer and so, after the flood, he planted a vineyard. Whether he knew about the effects of fermented grape juice or not, we do not know but he drank fermented wine and became intoxicated. As happens with many a drunk, he basically passed out naked on his bed.
"Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father's nakedness." NIV translation
We see, here, two very different reactions to the situation. Ham brought shame and embarrassment to his father by going and telling the other boys. The other boys showed proper respect and covered their father. These different reactions would have lasting consequences for their children even down to the people of today. Ham was a picture of the way that the devil reacts to our sin as he wants to tell it to everyone. Shem and Japheth are a picture of Christ covering our sin with His blood.
"When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, 'Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.'" NIV translation
When Noah sobered up and found out what Ham had done, he pronounced a curse on his youngest son (Canaan). Cursed is not some type of hex or other witchcraft but is, in fact, the opposite of blessed which is the state of being worry free because you are under the protection of God. Noah knew God's desire for children was that they would honor their mother and father. Because of the fact that Ham had dishonored his father, Noah is saying that God's protection will be removed from Ham's youngest son. This should be a reminder to all of us who have children that our actions have a direct impact on the future of those children.