Thursday, August 03, 2006

on racism...

Okay, I know that if one has never been exposed to other cultures, one may not be very culturally sensitive. Right? Coming from cities like Toronto and Montreal, and having travelled all over the world, I can appreciate the differences each culture brings.

I have never been the subject of racism or any racist comments (directly), but last year I went to the grocery store with a student from South Korea and one of my old college friends. The three of us were shocked when this little girl looked at my student and began frantically clawing at her mom and shreiking, "Mom! Mom! We have to go! We have to go! Quick! Quick! There are Chinese here!!!!!" I thought it was mildly amusing. My student was hurt. My friend was horrified. She's also from Montreal and she's also a teacher. She's Canadian too, but not of a visible minority like me. Anyway, she almost went up to the mother and gave her a talking to. She wanted to say, "For your information, she is Chinese-Caribbean-Spanish-Filipino-Canadian and he's from South Korea!!!" Anyway, nothing was said, and I told my student to just shrug it off, because some people on the island have never seen anyone who is not Caucasian or Native, let alone have stepped off the island. It's not their fault they have never been exposed to different cultures.

It did bother me a little bit though since I've never experienced anything like that. Then when in Montreal, there was a pan handler who was harrassing one of the students for spare change. When ignored, he turned to the student and said, "Do you understand English?" He got so upset that he yelled at the poor kid, "HALLOOOOOW!!! You don't speak English??? Ching chang chong!" It just infuriates me to no end! That was so rude and so uncalled for. (We had a good laugh though, because my student's reaction was priceless, but that's besides the point)

Then last week, one of the kids playing baseball was giving my student a rough time. I think he was trying to see if he could aggrevate him and see what he'd do. Sometimes kids can be brats to one another. So this boy stepped on my student's foot and said a handful of taunting words. My student just kept cool though. The students love baseball on Thursdays and are getting along so well with the local kids. It's just this one little bugger that seems to be a shit disturber.

I know that if a person has never been exposed to people who are different, then they stare or don't know how to react. I guess I'm just so used to not even thinking about differences that these things have never been an issue for me. To me, the way I've been brought up was that first and foremost, people are people. They're not Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Mexican, Portuguese, German, American, Canadian, French...They're not Catholic, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Atheist.. They're people!!!

Anyway, do you think that it's just children being children and not knowing how to react to people of different cultures? Do think it's the way they've been brought up? I know there are many factors, but I'm trying to explain this to kids stydying English as a second language. Basically I've said that it's not the kids' fault, since they've never seen people who are 'different' before.


Anonymous said...

Racism is wrong. End of story. Parents should instill those values in their children.

tammy said...

Everyone should be so nice and openminded as you Chris. Unfortunately not everyone is and I think racism will always exist. Sad to say. But parents should teach their kids because education begins in the home. I know we tell our kids to treat everyone the same and that diffreneces make people special.

Anonymous said...

small town mentality. somepeople can't help it. It's still ignorant though.

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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