My latest encounters with racism. Grr - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 03-10-2010, 12:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm asian and DD is half asian, half caucasian (and so will the new baby), so encounters like this really make me mad/sad for the attitudes that my kids will encounter. I'm also adopted and grew up in Australia, and these attitudes were definitely prevalent while I was growing up, but they are basically extinct among most thinking people in Aus.

Anyway. I just have to post these, because they make me fume and I didn't know what to say. Perhaps some people have some suggestions.

Encounter 1:
With a colleague at work (so I didn't want to rock the boat)

Her: Oh, we've been watching the curling at the Olympics and last night was soooooooo funny. The Chinese were competing against the Xs [can't remember which team].

Me: oh? Why?

Her: Haha, well the chinese were yelling "Ching chong ching chong chung,chang [etc etc etc]. We were all laughing so hard. It was hysterical!

Me: oh.

What should I have said here? It was soooo offensive. She obviously didnt' think there was anything wrong with this.

Encounter 2:
With one of DH's colleagues

Her: So you're Australian?

Me: Yep

Her: Well...were you born there?

Me: No, actually I was born in Korea and adopted as a baby.

Her: To WHITE parents?!?!?

Me: Uh, yes.

Her: Really? Wow. You know there are lots of Chinese babies who are raised by their grandaparents until they are 5 and then are given back to their real parents who they don't know.

What should I have said here??? It was all so irrelavent and weird, especially as i have only met her once before at a party and this was just a quick chat walking back to the parking lot.

Leila, mama to Eleanor (10/08) and Emmett (4/10)

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#2 of 12 Old 03-10-2010, 03:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, London, ON is not the most multicultural place which surprises me given the large university here. But DH has a great job and it's a nice place to raise kiddies (I think).

We dont' have a real HR person at my workplace. I don't know if the person would really take it seriously and I don't think I will raise it anyway. I just can't believe that people are so ignorant! I don't think she realized how offensive it was.

Leila, mama to Eleanor (10/08) and Emmett (4/10)

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#3 of 12 Old 03-10-2010, 04:11 PM
 
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I am so sorry that you have to experience some thing like that redvlagrl!
There are idiots everywhere but I like to think that Canada is a bit more tolerant.
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#4 of 12 Old 03-11-2010, 03:22 PM
 
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That is aggravating. Funny, I've had similar experiences with Australians that have left me with a dropped jaw and speechless. I think there are difficult people everywhere.

With respect to the Olympics, I *might* have asked her outright if she made fun of all of the countries equally, after all she wouldn't want to discriminate, right? Unfortunately, linguistic mannerisms are an easy thing to pick on - I've always wondered how the Swedish feel about the Swedish chef segments on the old Muppet Show.
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#5 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 05:33 AM
 
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I've always thought that in general most folk don't make stupid comments like this and then as soon as I am feeling pretty reassured then I get disappointed again with some stupid comment, I don't think that it is an Australian thing I would tend to agree with a pp that said that there are people like this all over the world!

I recently watched a documentary thing on the tv here in france and a AA was staying with an all-white family - they had a party and the grandmother asked the woman if she was from Africa - I couldn't believe my ears that someone in this day and age would do something like this but obviously it does happen - amazing really.

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#6 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 04:40 PM
 
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With the first encounter I probably would have played dumb to the extreme.

"I don't understand. What was so funny?"

To give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they were laughing because they were watching world class athletes yell at an inanimate object. I mean, that is sort of funny- to be yelling so passionately at a rock.

But.... assuming they they were indeed poking fun at the Chinese language... I would continue to play dumb after they fessed up.

"I still don't get it. What's so funny about people speaking their own language at an event like the Olympics? OH.... you are making fun of the Chinese language itself. Hmmm. Guess I still don't get the joke. I mean, it's their native language. Spoken by a billion people. I bet English sounds equally weird to them. I guess it is kind of strange that we all live on the same planet yet our language is so different. I wonder if Chinese people sitting in their living rooms during the Beijing Olympics laughed at the way Michael Phelps talks."

And just go on and on and ON being particularly thick about it to pound the point home.

The second encounter is a little trickier- I mean, there's nothing really outwardly offensive about what she said, maybe just a little naive and ignorant, and this is not someone you'll ever see much of. I would probably just have let that one go.

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#7 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 04:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Belia - I don't know if would've had the guts to do that though! They were definitely laughing at the language because we live in Canada and people don't find curling intrinsically funny (I do, being from Australia) and she had also mentioned that they had been watching it for days, so I suppose the 'yelling at the rock' thing had worn off.

Ugh. And yesterday someone was saying that there were soooo many Muslims here now that it was making her nervous! It really made my blood boil. I should have asked why it would make her nervous, but she wasn't really talking to me.

Leila, mama to Eleanor (10/08) and Emmett (4/10)

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#8 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 06:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewe+lamb View Post
I recently watched a documentary thing on the tv here in france and a AA was staying with an all-white family - they had a party and the grandmother asked the woman if she was from Africa - I couldn't believe my ears that someone in this day and age would do something like this but obviously it does happen - amazing really.
Or... the grandmother didn't know said guest's entire history and was trying to make polite conversation. That's truly shocking.
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#9 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 07:09 PM
 
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Yeah I can understand what you're saying but the woman had a really strong NY accent so unless said grandmother is indifferent to the different accents within the USA or she's completely deaf, which didn't seem to be the case - I was completely shocked - lol

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#10 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 11:39 PM
 
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Yeah I can understand what you're saying but the woman had a really strong NY accent so unless said grandmother is indifferent to the different accents within the USA or she's completely deaf, which didn't seem to be the case - I was completely shocked - lol
There are so many different types of accents in the US - in the *world* when speaking English - it really is not that far-fetched that the elderly woman may not have known.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that it was an American program - which really isn't clear from your post, given that you mentioned only France. Which first led me to think it was a French documentary - which would have made it that much more likely the grandmother would have no clue. See how easy a single missed piece of information can lead one to a wrong conclusion?
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#11 of 12 Old 03-14-2010, 05:06 PM
 
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Here in France, they find it completely acceptable to make fun of Asian languages. I made it clear to my dh and his family that I was from San Francisco, used to live in Hong Kong and although I'm white, just in principal, find it racist. They honestly couldn't figure out why I would think that. These language do sound funny to them...

So I changed tactics. First of all, I scold my children when they do this. Luckily, it's not often and only the oldest. He got a whole speech on how racist and rude it was in front of the whole family. Yes, I was speaking English but no translator was needed!

Then, if one of them do it. I get all funny and say "Honey, you're trying to imitate Chinese? That sounds more like Japanese. It's so amusing how you Europeans can't tell the difference..."

To illustrate, I'll tell the story of an ad I saw once here in France with a Chinese dish and Japanese chopsticks. I found this hysterical. I make this clear to those present. No one dares ask what the difference is...

These usually change the direction of the conversation quickly.

And again (more arsenal) a good imitation of what the French sound like to us English speakers. My kids usually join in...

I'm also big on using the word "white" (blanc) in conversation with French. I can tell they hate this. Well, we are. They say European or westerner. I also liberally refer to myself as an immigrant, something that makes them uncomfortable. I became French in 2002 so it's entirely correct in my case!

I was just having lunch with a group a few months ago and one of the American exchange students was telling us how annoying it was that the French always assume she speaks an Asian language. I didn't ask why but she was expressing how it made her feel and it wasn't fun for her. The locals speak to me in German here but I don't feel it's quite the same situation...
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#12 of 12 Old 03-23-2010, 01:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post

To illustrate, I'll tell the story of an ad I saw once here in France with a Chinese dish and Japanese chopsticks. I found this hysterical. I make this clear to those present. No one dares ask what the difference is...
The tendency that many Westerners have to clump all things Asian into the same category drives me nuts. No people, you're not likely to find Pho at a Chinese restaurant, or Chow Mein at a Japanese one. Selling a cheongsam as a Geisha costume isn't exactly "correct" either, any more than selling a kimono as a "China Girl" costume is.
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