Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Can't Believe You Just Said That!

We just finished remodeling our basement. So we've had a steady stream of workers here. For months. All of whom were professional, and very nice -- even to the dog. BUT I had two disturbing conversations that left me speechless. The following are excerpts from those actual conversations.

The freezer repairman just replaced a malfunctioning part, and handed me the old one, which amounted to an enormous piece of plastic, with some metal bits attached. "Can I get you to throw this away for me?" he asks.

"Sure." I say. "Is it recyclable?"

"No idea. I'm an American. Let the rest of the world recycle."

Excuse me? We're the leaders of the free world. Let everybody else take care of our bad habits? What ever happened to taking the higher road, setting an example. Not to mention saving the planet for our children. I don't get it. But the guy was dead serious. He went on to tell me about a buddy who owns a junkyard, which used to be "the lowest of the low". He said all of the sudden recycling became "all politically correct" and the guy retired a millionaire (from recycling the stuff people left irresponsibly in his junkyard, I'm assuming.) --Maybe our worker's in cahoots with this guy, and he discourages folks from recycling so his buddy gets all the goods and the cash! :)

. . . . .

I'm on the phone with the guy who's putting in our floor, and he says two guys are on their way down to install it. I said, "I have to take my son to school. Is it okay to leave for a few minutes while they're here?" He replied, "Oh, sure. They're good guys. They just don't look like it because they're Mexican."

What?!? Did he actually just imply that all Hispanics (sorry, it drives me crazy when people call any and all Latin Americans "Mexicans") look like crooks simply because of their race? Don't get me started.... At least he acknowledged that these two are good.

. . . . .

Help me out here, folks. I am not an extremist. But I believe rights come with responsibility. Part of being an American is using our freedom to make the best choices available to us, and treating all others with dignity and respect.

How do you (respectfully but firmly?) handle people whose views you find offensive?
How are you teaching your children to be good citizens of the world?

14 comments:

Kazzy said...

We had a discussion with our kids about this when I was RS Pres and a woman from a neighboring ward called and asked if we had any "colored" people in our ward because she needed someone to come in and clean once a week. I still get riled up just thinking about that. Unfortunately my response to people usually is a sarcastic one so I won't spread that here, but when it comes to teaching our children we don't get very preachy, but instead try to show by example a love of every color and kind of person. We have been especially grateful for our time in LA and London for these exact reasons. Sometimes big cities provide more direct teaching experiences. But this is a good reminder to have an FHE on the topic. Thanks for the reminder!

heather of the EO said...

ooooh. I think my head almost exploded as I read through these conversations. I know we can try not to get angry, try not to judge, but it's so hard! Because it's just so ignorant. And hurtful.
I'm not a fan of labels of any kind. Even my own. I have beliefs that are dear to me, but I DON'T want to be called a conservative christian. Because I don't fit that stereotype at all, yet people who don't know me will have this idea that they know how I think. We're all different, that's the thing. Yes, I believe in God, in Jesus, in grace, in love, etc... but that doesn't mean I have the same political views as the next Christian. Ugh... This is so long. Soap box issue for me! Lumping people together and deciding you know what they think, feel, and believe is just so ridiculous.
People have often made comments around me about African Americans or Hispanics. It still shocks me though. I just don't understand how that kind of judgement can come so easily...I'll stop now. A friend often has to remind me that judgemental people need the most grace because they must be really unhappy. I guess...

Melanie J said...

This drives me nuts. But I learn best from my kids. We were visiting my dad in the hospital when my then six year old son pointed at my dad's nurse (who was black) and stated, "Nurses are supposed to be white." I was mortified. Having grown up in a racially divided neighborhood I had sworn an oath as a teenager never to incubate bigotry in my kids. The nurse obviously heard him and did her best to ignore him. I went on to explain gently that there's no job where one color of skin is better or worse than another for doing a job, that any color person could do any thing they want, etc. I fervently hoped that this nurse who was taking care of my dad was okay with this explanation. My son listened patiently as I went on explaining, explaining, and explaining. When I was done and the nurse was long gone, he finally said, "No, mom. Doctors are blue, nurses are white."

Huh?

Turns out the only thing he was questioning was her red hospital srubs, not her skin color.

Sheesh.

Brillig said...

Ugh. It's not just wholly disgusting that they would SAY those things, but that they just naturally assumed that you would AGREE with them! Grrrr...

heather of the EO said...

yeah, what brillig said (of course, smarty pants) But yeah.
I wrote about that "naturally assuming" thing here:
http://iflifeisahighway.blogspot.com
This is where I ramble on about faith and life and stuff. But not just me, it has other authors. They are wiser than I, but the post I'm talking about is called
This and Not That

heather of the EO said...

C, you are the sweetest thing. Spending time on my other blog, what a trooper you are. I don't give that one out much, I'm not sure why I feel so sheepish about it. Loved your comments and appreciate your time, Heather
(I guess I'm not that sheepish, cause I'm rambling on about it right here in public....geez.)

Mr. D said...

I knew a girl at the U of U who took a class on such recycling and became EXTREME in her testimony of the need to put glass in that one, plastics in that one, leaves in that one, paper in that one, biodegradables in that one and so on. In the process she took up drinking coffee, wine, and living with a man, unmarried. I could not help but wonder what she would be like if her testimony of TRUTH had taken on the same intensity as that of recycling. Balance is the issue I guess. She threw the baby out with the bathwater, focusing on just one side of what is important. I confess to some real curiosity as to how her left wing philosophies have worked in her life. I will be very surprised if it comes out on the yellow brick road. She did broaden her racial outlooks however, living with another race fellow unmarried for two years, then marrying him when she got pregnant. Now, that is a ponderous real life example of how difficult the real life application of difficult precepts can become. Personaly, I think she blew it. But of course, the final pages have not yet been written for her, and I am not one to judge (Any more than expressing my current opinion.) Aloha, D.

charrette said...

Heather, when you said this "A friend often has to remind me that judgmental people need the most grace because they must be really unhappy." reminded me of a saying I from my mom I wrote about in an earlier post (Love Thine Enemies): "The people who are the hardest to love are the ones who need love the most." So true.

Melanie J, great story, with a great twist. I learn the most from my kids too.

Mr D - Balance (in everything)seems to be an all-important and never-ending challenge.

Kazzy said...

And as for balance on the race thing... finding an appropriate way to talk about differences in culture, tradition, physical appearance, etc without it turning into degradation. There ARE some differences, but not any that make anyone better than anyone else. These differences are here to help us learn about understanding people that are not exactly like us, and to add beauty and variety to the earth.

charrette said...

Well put.

Dedee said...

I've read up on all your posts, and am finally getting around to commenting.

My dh had a friend in optometry school who firmly believed that no foreigner should come into the US and express any dissenting opinion whatsoever and that every decision that the good ole US of A made was right. Anytime, any decision.

We are all human beings, but prejudice and, at times, willful ignorance, make me sick. I am so thankful for the time I was able to spend in some other state than my current one so that my children could be in environments where every race was represented, not just the two that we live with now.

Prayers for those people who are absolute idiots and can't see the harm they cause when they open their mouths.

charrette said...

One of the things I loved about Southern California (and Kazzy alluded to this too) was the diversity. Especially where we were, in Pasadena, it was a true melting-pot, with races represented in near equal number. Our kids played and went to school with children of every race, religion, and economic strata. They became essentially "color blind" as a result. Too, they had friends named Zakir, Shahe, and Celestina. And that was as normal to them as Jane or Joe. I miss that here. I think too much same-ness can be unrealistic and breed too much comparison.

Kimberly said...

How about responding, "Practice being a bigot much, or does it come naturally?"

breckster said...

After reading the post and the string of comments, I have found another reason I am glad we are in NYC for now. Living here is building a foundation that will allow him (and us) to see the sheer ignorance in such comments. My two year old knows the difference between garbage and recyclables. He knows that people are people, and the only difference may be an accent.

I do have a few stereotypes that I have developed since I have been here. When I am carrying too much and need to sit down on the train or bus I look for an Hispanic man to make eye contact with because he will always offer me his seat. If I need help carrying the stroller up or down the stairs I look for the well-dressed black man because he will offer to help. And the slender black women will always tell me if something is amiss in the front of my stroller.