December 18, 2008

The "sticks and stones" rationalization

In How Kids Taunt Asians (and Indians), I was particularly struck by the idiotic counselor whose sole advise was the lame "sticks and stones" adage. I often hear a similar refrain when debating Indian mascot and stereotype issues. "If you don't like it, just ignore it," people will say. "Sticks and stones," etc.

Hello? Have these people ever been subjected to systematic verbal abuse? It's a lot worse than an occasional insult, believe me.

I was subject to insults of the nerd/robot/computer variety, and they bothered me. More important, I dished out a lot of verbal abuse to my younger brother--enough to make him cry at times. I think it's scarred our relationship to this day.

Point is that I'm an expert at attacking and insulting people. If I wanted to make you feel hurt, upset, or angry, I'm betting I could do it. No matter how calm and rational you think you are.

The same applies to coping with ethnic slurs and stereotypes. If you haven't endured what you expect others to endure, you don't know what you're talking about. "Until you've walked in someone's shoes," spare us the "sticks and stones" rationalizations.

In particular, white people who defend their racist "jokes" and comments need to get a clue. I don't think they have any idea what it is to be a minority in America. The "How Kids Taunt" essay gives you a glimpse into that world.

For more on the subject, see Anti-Indian Racism Explained and Everybody Is Racist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree for the most part, but I think the last part was a little self-conscious and incorrect. ANYONE who defends their racist "jokes" and comments need to get a clue. A lot of people, no matter of race or gender or background, bother to step outside themselves and into another persons shoes. To point out just white people on this issue in the end is following the same footsteps as those who stereotype others in the first place.