the only easy day was yesterday

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

and if i wasnt, then why would i say i am

Today at work (as a sailing instructor) was the usual day: no wind, kids swimming, and me driving aimlessly in a motorboat. However, today i was accompanied by the yacht club's Israeli windsurfing instructor. We talked a lot about Israel and Jewishness, but eventually the topic changed to race. He asked how big of a deal it is to say "Nigger" in America. As I continued to engage him in conversation regarding the issue of racism I quickly found out that he knew nothing of America's dark past (and present) regarding the descendants if those whose ancestors were brought here as slaves. I found myself teaching about sit ins, segregation, Rosa Parks (who he brought up thinking it had something to do with a grandma in a taxi). I described how Blacks were treated, using Jackie Robinson as an example of integration (but then using the fact that he wasn't allowed to go out to dinner with his team as illustration of America's backwardness). I realized that he had grown up, not here, but in Israel; but it seemed so bizarre to me that such things were not taught at all. He was completely oblivious too of the rampant anti-Semitism in America as well. I found myself teaching of the WASP order that dictated so much of life in America for so long, and I used Borat as an example of its continued presence today. He was very surprised to hear such things. I, too, was very surprised to see a kid (17) that didn't look foreign and spoke English to be as oblivious as he was.

The entire experience gave me a new perspective on country's other than America, and got me thinking that the American Experiment with regard to its disastrous history (and present) with race and ethnic relations should be something that is taught all over the world. I feel that my country's mistakes should be learned from in other places around the world. In many ways America's disasters have more international educational value than many of its achievements (i.e. the revolution, planes, and other shit that probably gets a nod in international curriculums). In the spectrum of World History, race in America should be covered more than anything else in American history (with the exception of WWII).

9 comments:

Madeline Mindich said...

1 ducky- "Jackie Robinson, Dinner" in the buisness lounge at taipei

The W said...

Awesome! Throw some Leon Trotsky/Permanent Revolution ones around mainland China when you get there (Shanghai is probably most prime). Watch out for police though...

The W said...

a couple of genocide/darfur ones couldnt hurt either...

Jasper said...

Eh, I think that Americas involvemenet in WW II is covered fine in the general teaching of the subject in any given country, but I do agree about the race issue. This actually brings me back to the post I made a while back about race and gender, and this is singular proof for what I was trying to say - America pats itself on the back for making "strides" in racial and gender issues, when really we should constantly be reminded about how stupid we have been in our past in ragard to race and gender. As I suspected, according to this kid, race is not an issue like it was here across the pond, and yet when we make it to the level that is barely resemblent of how race is treated in Europe we act like itsa fuckin miracle. Jackie Robinson is treated like a hero, and maybe he was if he was so deeply living Americas reality, but he was just a guy that got treated like he should've thats no huge event. This'll just serve to make me more angry about t.v when I watch and they praise the idiots and act like they're intelligent people because they appreciate it when people get treated like people - even though he was a baseball player and was probably treated exactly as he would've been 300 years ago...

Adamant said...

hi Jasper- I live in an island populated in the last 600 years.I don't know who and how the water channels that cross the whole island were built. Tunnels across mountains and in amazingly dangerous places, where we now walk as curious turists, searching for adrenalin!The history that really makes a difference seems to not get deserved attention.

Jasper said...

I'm not good at guess the island sorry, but I'm assuming that you're making a sarcstic comment on a continent, so I'll give it an appreciative giggle as if I know what you're talking about and move on.

Welcome to my humble little blog adamant, just out of curiosity, where did you get the site from - I've been pushing it in all sorts of places; philosophy blogs, rubber duckies, you know, the usual. Anyway I love new opinions and comments, keep comin back.

Madeline Mindich said...

This is pretty interesting, I have your names as they would be written in chinese next to "the w" and "jasper". Just to add to the depth of global "white is good" I was looking through a magazine while my mom was doing some shopping (i now know where willow gets it from), and i came upon an advertisement for a face whitening cream it said "from black to white" with liv tylers smiling face all chalked up. The cream is black to emphasize the beautiful white aftermath. Also during the day when the sun is out all the women walk around holding umbrellas to shade their face. White is considered refined. There is no brown rice at restaurants to my surprise. It is considered poor and unbleached. I know that there must be different sentiments behind this contempt of 'darkness' but there seems to be a universal agreement that white is refined...cultivated. I wonder if the idea of white as good or dark hatred is completely missing from the language and thought process. Jasper, i'd like another permission because i'd like to write a little bit about industrialization/capitalization. And your e-mail so i can send you some other things about the trip that probably would be a waste of space up in here.

Jasper said...

jasperyate@mac.com

I'll send another permission, I guess.

I think that we may be flattering ourselves if we say that the Chinese obsession with 'white is good' is because of caucasions. I think that their idea of white as refined may go a little further bac than Liv Tyler and covergirl, possibly even before any contact with the white race we talk about today when we say white - limited contact in early history was with such peoples as greeks and africans, which are not 'white' white. No doubt that Asian pop culture clings to american trends, but I think that the kind of cultural things like whitening themselves are in a different arena of influence, and probably land in the stupid traditions of culture category...

The W said...

The whiteness is a class thing as well. Those who are darker are sometimes so because they work outside all day (in the sun...getting tan). Thus those of a higher class are naturally lighter skined, because they are not working hard outside all day.