Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mommy, There's a Black Person!

This is a message I just sent to the Polskie Radio:

"Hi, I'm writing in from Canada. Last night, I was listening to Radio Poland on the overnight thing, where CBC presents news from other countries. I don't know Polish, so hopefully the people doing the English section will read this.
I'm writing about a story where one news person was discussing offensive ads. The first one she described, showing young women bungling various 'male' occupations, was clearly sexist.
The second one, however, was about a child saying 'look, mommy, there's a black person'. When she described that, I thought OK, now she'll get to the offensive bit. But apparently that was the part she found offensive - the child pointing out a black person.
I haven't seen the ad, but from what I've heard, it doesn't seem offensive at all. Noticing and commenting on differences in skin color is no more offensive than noticing and commenting on differences in hair color (which the news person did when discussing the first ad). The problem is making a value judgment about skin color, not merely noticing it.
I see no problem in calling myself white. I have several black friends, and I call them black and myself white in their presence without offending them. I have a good friend who is an immigrant from Zambia and she and I talk about race as freely as anything else.
In fact, ignoring race is frequently racist, because very often people will assume the person is white unless they know otherwise. Particularly on radio and other communication where you can't see the person described, this erases black people and other groups. Also, ignoring racial differences usually means ignoring cultural differences too, and expecting people to be like you when they really aren't is prejudiced too."

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Blogger Maya M said...

I agree.
I remember a (white) French wondering at the extremes of political correctness. His son wanted to show him a friend, and although his friend was the only black child in proximity, the words used were, "The boy over there with the yellow jacket".

4:31 AM  
Blogger Ivan said...

you're right for the most part........I guess it depends on how one says "Look Mommy, there's a black person" and the reason behind pointing the person out as black. Tone of voice often determines whether it's just a casual observation or something else........excitement at seeing a black person, or revulsion.

Tone of voice is one of those things that confuses a lot of autistic people.....including us......

Ivan of athenivanidx

8:04 AM  

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