Listen, My Children...

Every Little Helps

Monday, July 21, 2003

Don't knock it till you've tried it

They always say that people only make fun of things that they're scared of because they don't understand them or know enough about them. "They," by the way, are modern mostly-lay psychologists. They are the same kind of people who say, "look, the Sept. 11 hijackers went to strip clubs and bars and totally acculturated themselves but really hated American culture -- the way to stop people from hating America is to sponsor student exchange for those most radically opposed to America!" (Yes, they just don't seem to get it, do they?)

That line of reasoning doesn't make too much sense to me. I never made fun of Canada, and then I went there -- and now I think the people from the Maritimes are disturbingly perky, Ottowans are pathologically helpful (especially when you don't want to be helped), and Canadians are just silly. That last opinion comes from listening to the radio news and reading the editorials in the paper. They really think we think about them as often as they think about us!

On a less giddy note, my sister was the most p.c. and anti-racist person around until she started her summer job at a community service organization in Houston. She's come across enough weird stuff to make her say things that make me reflexively cringe. People naming their children ridiculous names, bizarre stuff like "miss lovely" that'll sure keep them from looking serious on a job application -- and the reason they give is, "so that when their momma beats them or yells at them, they'll think about their name and know that deep down she loves them." This is the "momma" saying this herself. Or people refusing to breast feed, instead demanding money for formula or feeding their kids cow's milk, because it's "not part of Hispanic culture." Or refusing to have basic hygeine practices or to take appropriate medication instead of often counterproductive home remedies, because it's not how they were brought up (and, one assumes, they want their kids to be sickly and on the street just like they were). Now that my sister has had a taste of poor urban black and hispanic life, she's starting to look down on it something awful. I wouldn't dream of making the disparaging comments she does -- I think it's rather an abberance from ignorance rather than something inborn (I also think it's not "black culture" -- it's got nothing to do with the skin color you're born with -- but rather poor inner-city culture, something which can and should be changed. Don't catch me saying that over at Yglesias's site again, though).

Sometimes, getting to know something more, seeing how either loony or ignorant or depraved it is (depending on where you're coming from), doesn't help you to like it better -- but a deeper understanding of it may help you to make your negative comments much more forcefully and with information to back it up.


Post a Comment

<< Home