Monday, July 7, 2008

The "y" word.

It is nice to know that the British are, if nothing else, the world's radar when it comes to spotting racist attitudes, especially in children. As if it wasn't ludicrous enough when British Airways announced it would remove meat dishes from its meal selections, (at least in coach) for fear of offending Hindus, now comes the startling revelation that even the littlest of tots may harbor racism in their dear little hearts. How might that happen, you ask? Perhaps
they were raised in a white supremacist cult? Perhaps they had parents or other relatives that would speak derogatorily of other cultures? No, nothing so blatantly obvious.

Yes, you see parents of the world, your little ones may one day grow up to wear a white hood or throw a "Sig Heil," all because you gave them something to eat that was just a little different from their normal fare.

According to the London-based National Children's Bureau, it "says to be aware of children who "react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying 'yuck'." Let me get this straight: Little Johnny or little Jane, who may be no more than say, 3 or 4 years old, whose taste buds are not yet the same as an adult, and who may not like certain textures and tastes, are to be labeled as having "racist tendencies" when they don't even have an inkling of what a racist or racism is? Hmm? What if they don't like certain foods that are associated with their own ethnic group? Should we then label them as "anti-social" because they exhibit tendencies that are different from the norm within their ethnic grouping?

What if they don't like broccoli? Are they prejudiced against vegetarians, and disrespectful of their lifestyle?

Political correctness has run wild in this world, and this is only the latest in a long series of examples. I would never, ever deny that one should be respectful of another person's culture, belief system, sexual orientation, etc. However, taken to the extreme (as this is an example of) it can only serve to have the opposite effect of what one is intending to do.

Now, the article states that,
""Racist incidents among children in early years settings tend to be around name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group relationships," the guide says." Ok, I can understand the premise behind that statement, but it is so broad as to be meaningless. What separates racism from plain old bullying? It would seem that is a step up, from just your garden variety thing that kids do and say to each other.

The bottom line in my mind is this; it is one thing to spot racist tendencies in children early, but to my reckoning, you need a far better parameter than a child turning up his nose at ethnic foods, or foods they are not used to. If that were the case, then I should have been branded a racist long ago for saying "yuck" to oxtail and collared greens, and that was as an adult. Most children's tastes change with age, and they find that they will like foods as an adult that they could not stand as a child. It is a normal part of development.

I don't want to even think about what a child would be labeled if they used the word "bleech."


Jay said...

GAAahh!!! I've been awake less than an hour and I'm seething already. I cannot stand political correctness. I believe it is one of the biggest social evils of our day and should be wiped out before it can do any more damage.

As for BA, I'm SO going to run with this one...

jenniferw said...

I'm a southerner and not exactly a spring chicken but I'LL say "YUCK!" if anyone puts collard greens in front of me! With or without their collars!

If you don't like a food, you don't like it, period! It doesn't mean anything beyond that! Good grief. As I rhetoricized in a recent post ... "Is it just me or has the whole world gone crazy?"

Mr. Nighttime said...

Jennifer - thanks for stopping by!

I like to think that this is a phase, and that normalcy will return one day...but i am not so sure. Look, I am not a conservative individual, but I know stupidity when I see it, and that was just such a bunch of stupid stuff.

I can't help but wonder though: Maybe potential dictators would be weeded out of the population early with that same standard? No? Well, just a thought. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Don't know the US equivalent to Daily Mail, but over here we call it the daily moron - reputable papers à la NYT,Herald, Time, Newsweek etc are
The Telegragh (right of center), The Guardian (left of center).
In my view being PC comes naturally, it's just about respect and quite often people who argue that PC is wrong are also the people who move to France/Spain because England isn't England anymore, quite often not realising that their attitude is a bit off.
Things get silly when the fear of inadvertently offending some group or other overrides common sense. People are just people with good and bad no matter what their culture, race, upbringing, religion etc...
It's human nature to be wary of or hostile to something or someone different to ourselves - goes way back to providing for one's own kin. But peer pressure is strongest in the very young (age 2-7) and in teenage years. It's all about complying to the group, and it's values - which can be a bad thing. My kids get bullied for being a bit different to the crowd, but as long as they remain well-adjusted and respectful we cope with that, sheep not being the brightest creatures on this earth.
Apologies if this comment is a bit rambling, being concise isn't my forte, but to let you know that my attitude comes from my childhhod. Not from my parents - Mother worked in Africa to educate the 'savages', but from my kid sister (fostered & Nigerian). The only time I ever hit anyone was when she was being called N*** and gollywog, and apart from the love we shared, my abiding memory of her time with us is of her climbing into the bath with me and scrubbing at her skin for all her worth, complaining that the 'dirt' wouldn't come off - she could NEVER fit the peer group and already felt negative aged just 3.

Peter said...

I'm afraid Belgium has very similar problems.

"Racist" and "discrimination" are the latest trendy words, used and abused by anyone over here.

Lately the local Dutch government has been labeling so many normal ingredients of regular free speech as "discriminatory" that people are afraid to just enjoy their basic rights.

Claudia said...

What if they don't like broccoli? Are they prejudiced against vegetarians, and disrespectful of their lifestyle?

They better not dis me. I can get all in their face with my veggie toned muscles. And if they were hoods, they better be hemp. Or some other organic and animal free product.

While I would not miss the meat, I think people are taking this whole politically correct thing a tad too far. How can society be as one if we keep separating one another, even if we do it now in the name of propriety. It is still segregation. In the end, the agenda remains the same, as does the end result. Live and let live. The end.

And have more sex. Just saying..

Mr. Nighttime said...

J - I read several British papers on a regular basis, including the Telegraph and Guardian, and the Independent as well. No, your point came through just fine, and yes, your comment about peer group pressure in the 2-7 age group is spot on. That said, one has to distinguish between normal peer issues and those that go over the top. I don't think those who put together that report (their own peer group pressuring others, mind you)were using their heads quite frankly. They seemed to have failed to take into account individual child developmental issues, very basic ones, regarding physiology and social interaction.

In short, they screwed the pooch when it comes to pure common sense, and I daresay they forgot their own childhood experiences in the process.

You are very lucky to have experienced something like you described regarding your African sister. I consider myself lucky, as the neighborhood in NYC where I grew up was fairly mixed ethnically. I was exposed to other cultures early on, and was never scolded for saying yuck to something I didn't enjoy. The usual response was "At least you tried it." Much of the other foods I tried from my Hispanic, black, and Chinese friends, I enjoyed very much. ;-)

Mr. Nighttime said...

Peter - I sometimes wonder about Europe. We are constantly being criticized here as being a "racist country," and yet, I read about so many incidences in Europe of the same kind of things that we are being accused of.

To be sure, America still has a problem with racist attitudes. Certainly, the Obama run for the presidency has brought that to the forefront of everyday thought, but at the same time, it has also shown just how far we have come since the days of Jim Crow. We still have a ways to go, but I would say that more has changed than has stayed stagnant.

Mr. Nighttime said...

"They better not dis me. I can get all in their face with my veggie toned muscles. "

Ok Conan the Vegetarian. ;-)

"While I would not miss the meat, I think people are taking this whole politically correct thing a tad too far. "

Exactly. It all boils down to personal choice at the end of the day.

"And have more sex. Just saying."

No argument there...At least some of us are.. *wink*

Mr. Nighttime said...

Hey J, I had to delete your comment. Nothing that you said, but as I blog anonymously, and my first name was in the comment, I had to trash it. Unfortunately, I don't think Blogger lets you edit comments.

If you came from Petite Anglaise, I use the name on my comments there only because she was the first blog I ever started commenting on, which was a few years ago. I'm not being anal, (not too much, anyway.) but I really am trying to avoid using my name in anyway for this blog. i know that retaining one's anonymity is hard, (just ask Petite!) but I am trying.

Again, apologies, but I had to do what I had to do.

Anonymous said...

No worries, didn't know that was your real first name, but if I were you I'd delete the link from PA as you're pretty easy to track, mind you quite a few readers know you from there.

Anonymous said...

PS Just noted on the sidebar that you have 2 readers from my part of the world,

gemmak said...

Arghhhhhhhhhhh!!! FFS! Don't get me started again, I only just calmed down from yesterday's mother needing a police check to mind her own child! The world has gone utterly, bloody mad...and the UK madder than most it seems! Where do these people get their theories from...I suspect many of them are just trying to keep themselves in employment and sod the rest of us who have to tolerate the nonesense :o/

Ok....deep breaths....

Mr. Nighttime said...

gemma - Remember, Zen is your friend...