America is diverse. Woohoo. Red, white, and blue; good for you.
We’re lucky to live in a society surrounded by as many different cultures and traditions as we do. In one class I sit next to people from 9 different countries. My grandmother, who lives in the Philippines, didn’t meet a white or black person (or any other ethnicity) until she was way into her 30’s.
In this wonderful melting pot we’re boiling in, there are stereotypes. There is hatred and misunderstanding and distaste all around. There is conflict and distrust. The bottom line is that there is racism and blatant offense, even if it’s unintentional.
I have lots of friends from the Indian subcontinent. They make brown jokes, we laugh, we move on. That can be considered acceptable in most situations because it’s light and we never speak down about anything or anyone.
Me: What do you have for lunch today?
Other friend: Is it curry?
Indian friend: *genuine laugh*
Anyone: Sup, nigga.
Why the “N” word has become so mainstream in this society is unknown. Everyone means it as a joke of course, but not everyone is comfortable hearing it. The word was used to demoralize and humiliate Africans for hundreds of years: why is it now a term of endearment? (And I use “endearment” very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very (go on for infinity) loosely.)
Another point to bring up: Anything can be offensive to anyone at any time in any situation. You never know. What some people find funny, others find extremely offensive and a huge moral lapse in character.
Some advice to make you a better person:
- If you think something you’re about to say has the potential to make someone uncomfortable or upset, don’t say it.
- If something you say does upset someone: DO apologize, DO NOT try to defend yourself. Misunderstandings happen, and most people will move on. Trying to defend yourself only worsens the situation, making you sound inconsiderate and arrogant. Yes, arrogant.
Person 1: Wow this is so gay.
Person 2: Don’t say “gay”, it’s rude and offensive.
Person 1: Hey it was just a joke get over it.
Not only do you sound like a bigger asshole, you leave the other person with a bad idea of you and resolve nothing. Even if you don’t believe what you said was wrong, the person you offended did.
Whether you’re Christian or atheist, black or white, tall or short, fat or skinny, Team Edward or Team Jacob, the bottom line is that you’re a human being with your own thoughts and feelings, and so is everyone else. Though people understand the “Do to others what you want others to do to you” principle, their actions actually follow the “Do to others exactly what they did to you, except hit them harder.” We can’t be a productive society when everyone is busy pissing each other off.
Then there’s the flip side: Try not to be so easily offended.
Me: So I made this new friend and he’s white and–
My friend: Don’t you mean Caucasian?
My friend: Why does everyone call us “white” when I have to say “Filipino” or “Chinese” instead of Asian why is it offensive if I call Asians “yellow” why–
And so on.
I corrected myself of course, but I did find it a very strange and unpredictable interjection. African Americans are called “black”, other white people are called “white” (even on the AP information sheet, which I recently filled out), my Indian friends call themselves brown.
Little things are going to happen, but we can’t change the world. If someone is pulling an extreme Megan Lochte or being flagrantly and uninhibitedly homophobic, say something. By all means, say something. But if someone refers to an African American “black” or pulls a stereotypical accent, as long as it’s all in good taste, please leave it be.
Of course all of this is from my personal experience. I don’t have a way with words to phrase this post exactly the way I meant it to be, but I hope you see what I’m trying to get at.
By all means, speak up if anything at all is crossing your personal lines. Just think before you speak, and be respectful.