Sunday, November 23, 2008

Teaching Our Children

On a more serious note, there was a downer in the evening at the game. It was a conversation I overheard between a man and his 9 or 10 year old son next to me. A Flyers player had a break-away and missed an opportunity to get a goal. The dialogue went as such:

Father: (angry) Why is that guy in the NHL?
Impressionable Son: Which guy?
Father: The Chinese guy!

a little later....

Father: There he is again!!
Impressionable Son: who?
Father: Pork-Fried Rice Guy

The guy obviously saw nothing wrong with this conversation because he didn't even try to lower his voice - not that it would have made it okay, but at least he would have been conscious that it inappropriate.

I could just see this little boy going to school and calling some Asian classmate "Pork Fried Rice" and not even really understanding what it means or why its so damaging. To this man, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai - they're probably all "Chinese" - the lack of respect for their heritage, the lack of understanding of their diversity, it all creates ignorance and breeds hate. This guy probably says that he is not a racist and tries to "teach" his kids that "black people are good too"....and he really believes that he's not racist.

Homophobia, sexism, racism, etc. are so embedded, so internalized, that we often only see them through the use of everyday language. Referring to an event as "so gay", calling another driver "dumb bitch", saying a woman has a "ghetto booty" may all seem funny, or harmless, but it all reinforces a long history of hate for someone because they are different than you.

This is why being "Politically Correct" should not be such a frowned upon term. Being PC simply means being conscious of the fact that certain language historically has been meant to marginalize others.

What we DO teaches our children MORE than when attempt to TEACH them. Good manners, good morals, equality and respect are all born out of modeling, not preaching those qualities to children.

I am mad at myself for not saying something... I don't know what I could have said that would have made a difference. Hopefully this blog is my way of speaking out, but unfortunately, that man will never read this.

NOTE: I wanted to look up info on the player the man was referring to in order to give him his proper respect. Arron Asham is not "Chinese" but rather is an Ojibway native Canadian from the province of Manitoba and is reportedly VERY proud of his ancestry.

1 comment:

inprogress said...

I have friends and family members that just don't get it, either, and make those type of insensitive comments all the time. In their head, they are really convinced that they're not racist. Drives me up a gd wall!

As the baby-boomers get older, and us gen-xers mature, I think we'll see that way of thinking begin to phase out. At least, I hope so. I try to remind my uncles that the Detroit riots are over, and so is WWII, but they just don't get it!