- Sep 4, 2019
- Reaction score
- North Carolina
Unfortunately, there are so many examples on both sides - examples of comments that really are racist, sometimes explicitly but also sometimes implicitly and perhaps unconsciously ... and there are examples of comments that were heard as racist when they really were not intended as such, even unconsciously. And to make life even more difficult, the line between these two can be very fuzzy. Certainly the way I first introduced the term was not intended to be racist at all ... and according to Richard, the actual manufacturer of the knives was based in USA ... but could there have been some racist overtones or motivation in the choice of the Asian-sounding brand name by this USA company? Could be ... but how can we tell?If you looked at my profile you would also see I'm not American so would not have seen the adverts whatever age. As Awake says it could be taken for a racist comment particularly following the previous post with comments about Philippines and China from the same member by anyone who is not old enough and American.
The fact of the matter is, we are constantly bumping up against cultural and ethnic and other demographic boundaries in just about everything we say and do. It is difficult for us to escape our own history and heritage, the speech patterns and references that we learned along the way, and even harder for us to know if there might be some inherent bias at work in how those patterns and references evolved. It is all too easy to participate in biased patterns without consciously choosing to do so ... all too easy to accuse someone of being biased, and all too easy to deny any bias whatsoever.
Rather than being either accusatory or defensive, we might do better to acknowledge that we are all, always, biased in certain ways, both consciously and unconsciously - and then talk through how each of us is hearing something that is being said, vs. what we thought we were trying to say, and ponder together how we can better communicate with one another. At different times and in different contexts, some areas of bias are far more "charged" than others, due to personal history, surrounding events, and so on. Many of us have made comments that could well be perceived as age-biased, but in the context of this forum, where many of us acknowledge a certain, ahem, maturity of years, such comments are probably generally understood to be gentle teasing - often directed at oneself. In another context, though, or for another person who has experienced agism in a very negative way, these "innocent" comments may be heard as very painful. If that is true for someone, I want to know it so that I can be sensitive to how my comments are being heard.
I would say the way the dialogue unfolded here was a good example of how to handle the issue. Jasonb raised the question in a way that I perceived as straightforward inquiry. Richard and I explained the reference, and Jason acknowledged that that made sense. Now we both know more than we did before - Jason knows a bit of Americana, and I now realize that someone who does not share my history may hear this reference as racially "loaded" in ways that I certainly do not intend. A good, open dialogue to clear up misunderstanding.