Saturday, November 17, 2007

Racism. It is wrong.

Chi*g C*hong Ch*ing Ch*ong....

Do you remember the whole Rosie O'Donell ch*ing ch*ong incident? ....then there is this eloquent response by the poet beau sia which points out the ignorance of the comment and the pain it can cause.

Well, we have our own personal ch*ing ch*ong incident -please excuse all the stars, I am trying to control who finds the site through nasty google searches- one of the teachers at the kid's school cracked a ch*ing ch*ong joke, and for good measure one about Native American languages too. Though the teacher implied that there is only one indigenous language in the Americas, neglecting the approximately 150 languages in the South American continent, which are the few survivors of the approximately 1,500 languages present at the time of European -read Spanish- contact in that region. This also neglects the approximately 28 Central American and Mexican indigenous languages, and the approximately 300 North American indigenous languages.

This joke was racist.

The fact that the teacher did it for a laugh and not in the context of trying to build cultural awareness and what can hinder peoples open-minded approach to the diversity of our world...

made it worse.

The fact that the teacher is a teacher...

made it worse.

We are drawing up our own response.

We do not anticipate being able to approach the eloquence of Beau Sia, especially as we have to have the conversation in Catalan, this however does not remove the importance of the issue.

I truly do not believe that this teacher is a racist. In that, I truly believe that he would not treat a child in his class differently if he or she came from another culture...that said, racism is alive and well here. I also truly believe that this teacher made an ignorant and harmful comment and needs to be called on it. Let's be nice and say educated if you want.

Here in Spain we are treated differently than other immigrants because we are immigrants from the so-called first world.

This is wrong.

We are not even called immigrants as this refers to poor people who often look different from the Spanish, as in not white, and often face economic challenges, most likely at least in part because of this labelling.

This is wrong.

Laughing at other culture's languages, or other people's faces

is wrong.

Doing so in an educational setting

is tragically wrong.

This country is one of the most open nations in Europe in their policies, in their admittance of refugees, in their willingness to provide every single person with medical care and education, but it is a nation that is new to having immigrants. It is something with which they are working, actively and diligently, on a daily basis.

But this behaviour, which I have also seen in other contexts,

is wrong.

It is not supportive of tolerance, which is this teachers job.

Tolerance is only the first pathetic baby step.

Tolerance implies merely a willingness to endure. It implies to me an element of distaste.

What we need is an open-minded welcome; an interest in and fundamental respect for all people and all cultures.

This behaviour does not support it.

What we need is a fundamental belief that the diversity of people, whether as individuals or as groups, by whatever commonality they are made, is one of the greatest riches that we posses as humans.

That we are one people, who are all different, and that this diversity is fundamentally and profoundly important is vital.

This behaviour does not pass on this message.

Now to pass my daughter's message about this subject on to the teacher.

In Catalan.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

all the other kids laughed.exept me. one time one of the kids told me an asi*n k*d was in the school once,and then sqeezed their eyes. i angrily told them that i had quite a number of asi*n friends and that they were some of the most fun and talented people i know.

eldest.

Beth said...

Go get 'em Oreneta!!!!!

You said everything so perfectly...now just go do it in Catalan....

and you should be very, very proud of Eldest..

The world needs you, Eldest....keep it up!!! And kick butt!!

Sirdar said...

To be honest, I've said a few "off colour" jokes that would be considered racist in some people's minds. I'm sure I've even done what Rosie has done. Does that make me racist?

I think racism is not well understood. There are very few jokes in the world today that wouldn't fit in the racist category. I don't think you can laugh at yourself without someone being offended. On the other side of the fence, I've had others poke fun at their own culture...like the "we all look the same" comment.

I work with many people from around the world. In fact, a person would be hard pressed to find racist remarks or attitudes in our offices. We recruit many people from around the world to work with us. Our company even provides "English in the Workplace" seminars to help the new people understand some of our sayings over here. It is actually a good program. I do the orientations for our department and yes, sometimes you can say something and you get the "deer in the headlights" look. So, you try it again but in a different way until it is understood..to a point.

But, we all work hard to welcome and help the newcomers coming to not only a new company, but a new city and country. Of course in Canada...we have Quebec who wants to bring in codes of conduct for immigrants.

Looks like I rambled on here....sorry. I agree that what that teacher said required a lot more discretion. Sorry to hear that you don't feel welcome where you are.

Jocelyn said...

I want to vote for you.

So, please, for the love of diversity, run for something.

dawn said...

It is true that the teacher is in a position of authority and influence and she lacked discretion in her words. It was definitely wrong what she said. I think it is wrong what Rosie did as well, being in a position of authority and influence. I also think that we are all in a position of authority and influence in times in our lives, and we must use discretion in our words also. Having said this, I agree with Sirdar in that we are often faced with people who use comments themselves. I have a friend in a wheelchair. She calls herself "wheel chair K" and refers to one of her friends as "wheelchair D". If I were to call her that to someone, in the fondness in which I find her referring to herself, I would be considered racist by others, unless I clarify. I have a friend who is native Canadian. If I tell her to turn at the tree, and go a few post beyond that(because that is how I give directions), she will laugh and say how she loves that I give her Indian directions. I can say that to her as well, and she agrees, it is something she has said. Sometimes (and I am not meaning the teacher or Rosie) people say things to go along with what the person has said about him or her self.

I hope you get the teacher straightened out.

oreneta said...

Eldest: Hi there. Love ya tons.

Beth: Thanks...geek, in Catalan...Eldest does rule, if I say so myself. So does youngest in her way.

Sirdar: I agree, it can be tricky as every individual will have their own take on their situation, but I think that making broad generalisations about others for the sake of a laugh at their expense is not really great.

Also, we do feel phenomenally welcome here. I am not sure we would be though if we hadn't come from Canada, or looked different. Therein lies the problem and the need for conversation.

Jocelyn: BUT WHAT??? Thanks.

Dawn: There is no question that in individual cases you are absolutely right...and in a relationship in which a basis of trust and respect is established much more can and should be said...but, butbutbutbut....that trust and respect has to be established first, and systemically it doesn't exhist, people who are not members of the dominant culture are well aware of that, and the members of the dominant culture are blind to this reality...as I am sure I remain in many many ways. Also, many members of the dominant culture are even unaware of how much priviledge they recieve, nor that they should be enraged by this. It's so comfy.

I hope eldest choses to talk to her teacher too. The school is well intentioned, but inexperienced.