MixedJewGirl is making a career out of schooling the uneducated masses, especially when it comes to race relations.
In “Cultural Etiquette: Don’t Ask ‘What are you?'”, she’s tackling how to deal with those “stupid questions” I get all the time as a Jew of color and also, why some people (read: white folk AND everybody else) need to stop asking them.
7 thoughts on “Schooling the Uneducated Masses”
As someone who is constantly explaining his background, heritage, and otherwise, I have to admit that I find her guidelines to exhibit over-sensitivity. I understand where she's coming from, but frankly sharing your identity is part of getting to know people.
Additionally, for someone who wants to combat racism and ignorance, her assertions are pretty strong!
I think she's trying to defend the people who don't want to constantly explain their backgrounds, heritage and otherwise. Why does every conversation have to start with an assessment of one's racial or ethnic background? For many Jews of color, people of color, this is uncomfortable and it feels like an interrogation, for some others, it doesn't.
I would rather be over sensitive than insensitive.
Fair enough, but sometimes oversensitivity leads to insensitivity. I've seen and done that plenty of times.
I think I've posted this before but I believe what Mixed Jew Girl hopes to help people avoid is 'microaggressions':
Unfortunately, too many people feel as though they have the right to personal information about multiracial people they barely know. An example is asking someone “what are you” before introducing themselves is a common microagression. It is simply poor manners to ask anyone these types of questions without first establishing a degree of friendship.
For instance, who people who are less racially ambiguous are not asked intimate familial questions upon first meeting. Why should multiracial people be treated differently?
Historically, these types of questions are indicative of the attitudes on society of the group at hand. If you read books and other media on race relations during the Civil Rights Era, questioning individual African-Americans about the “Black Experience” was a common practice. It didn't improve race relations at all. As a matter of fact, it contributed to problems of stereotyping of a universal “Black Experience.”
Similarly, many non mixed race people need to learn that this approach can be insidious. The mixed race community is comprised of individuals with varying experience. Interrogating individuals doesn't help someone comprehend this concept.
Also, realize the question and answer approach isn't yielding the results you think. Tannen and other social scientist have found blunt questioning frustrates the person of color and engenders more stereotypes than it refutes .
The egalitarian contact approach generates the most positive results. Egalitarian contact implies that the person in question is an equal, therefore allowing the person to share what they wish at the appropriate time. Individuals who use this approach tend to test better on racial bias tests and have more minority friends.
BTW, I'm a social researcher. I don't arrive at these positions based on mere personal opinion. These positions have been lauded by other social scientists, human resource professionals, and diversity educators.
@Aliza: Glad you found the article I sent useful! =)
@Mixed: Several points:
Unfortunately, too many people feel as though they have the right to personal information about multiracial people they barely know…[etc]
Take out the word “multiracial,” and your comment remains strong and valid! It's not a race issue, it's a person issue that can have race injected into it. Asking overly personal questions without getting to know the person facilitates stereotypes of all kinds, not just racial ones. It's a general problem, and suggesting that it occurs primarily with White people talking to others (irrespective of whether or not you do, others do!) does everyone a disservice.
Also, realize the question and answer approach isn't yielding the results you think.
I'm not sure what results you're suggesting that I think, because I have cited none. Be careful making assumptions!
Similarly, many non mixed race people need to learn that this approach can be insidious.
Again, take out “non mixed race” and your statement is still valid! Sensitivity is not about race; it's about people!
Don't get me started on racial bias tests. This is a good summary of my take, however.
I'm a social researcher. I don't arrive at these positions based on mere personal opinion.
Yeah, I'm one of those nose-in-the-journals academic types, too, so you're welcome to move this discussion to a more technical level off the comments page.
Orin, how did you get me to read a whole post about Putty people? Really.