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Close Encounters of the Ignorant Kind Encounter I…

22 October 2006

Close Encounters of the Ignorant Kind

Encounter I:

‘So what do you guys eat? Bamboo?” he laughs. I am taken aback and give him a look. I pause and reply.
“What do you think we are? Pandas? Please. We have some of the best foods in the world.”
“Like what?” He asks.
“Tell you what, I’ll bring you some tomorrow.” And so the next day, I bring this 50-something year old, Caucasian male a bowl of menudo that my mom made. He gobbled it up in 5 minutes straight out of the bowl.

This happened circa 2002 during my judicial clerkship. He was a court officer assigned to the judge I was working for and made that stupid remark when I was talking about how good Filipino food was. Obviously he hadn’t had any.

Encounter II:

“Our criminal justice system is similar to the court systems here in the U.S., ” I said.
“Oh yeah? What kind of cases do they hear over there? Like how many chickens a guy stole?” My co-worker laughs whole-heartedly, as does another co-worker present in the room.
Gawd. “No, we hear the same cases you would expect to see here. Asshole.” I fumed.

This happened only last year while working as an attorney. These remarks were made by another attorney who is around the same age as me –Caucasian (of Irish descent), law school educated.

Encounter III:

An e-mail written by a white (WASP) employee to another co-worker (of Japanese and Caucasian descent). They had been exchanging e-mail banter for a while and this was the end result:

my father told me never to fight a boy with braces. Pipe down you overgrown product of some nuclear fallout from hiroshima or nagasaki or I’ll send my guy X to straighten your teeth out.

I don’t think further background is necessary. Suffice it to say, this was written by one attorney to another. (And this email, I think, is racist by the way).

But this is not a post to say how racist people can be, because it’s not. It just so happened that those above encounters were with people who have small-town mentalities —regardless of their race. I’m lucky enough to have lived in two very cosmopolitan and culturally diverse cities here in the U.S. –that being Los Angeles and New York. I’m also quite lucky I haven’t had to deal with blatant racism since I’ve lived in such diverse cities. The racism I have encountered was from fellow minorities (but that’s another post altogether).

However, I do encounter stupid people on a daily basis. Stupid people who jokingly or not make snide comments about other people’s ethnicities and race because they lack knowledge and are simply not just cultured enough. Which is just plain sad considering these people all grew up here in America –land of the free, home of the brave, a country where people from other nations are desperately trying to live in. A country where all its citizens have numerous rights (so many that Americans always have this sense of entitlement wherever they go, which is both a bad and good thing).

But I’m not here to rag on them. Just on a select few. My point is this: hey, you grew up here. You have all the resources in the world. Get out of your small-town mentality and educate yourself! Why don’t you learn about other cultures instead of ragging on them and making dumb-ass remarks? It just makes you sound completely uneducated. Go travel. Try new cuisines. Explore the world. Pick up a fucking book. Broaden your horizons. Be a little less self-absorbed. Don’t be ignorant.

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