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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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FAIL! [20100821|16:25]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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([personal profile] lovepeaceohana, you'll appreciate this one, I think.)

I was talking with my sister-out-law (e.g. the bloke's brother's partner) last night and she told me the following story.

She was chatting with one of the mums she knows from a group she has lunch with occasionally. This lady is white. Sister-out-law is black Nigerian. Her son is, therefore, mixed-race. The lady suggested she should take her son to a modeling agency that specializes in placing children in adverts. She tried to remember the name of the agency.

"What was it," she mused to sister-out-law. "Oh...I remember, it's 'Golliwogs'."

Sister-out-law stared. Did she really just say that? Trying to keep her voice neutral, she asked, "Are you sure?"

"Maybe not," said the woman. She pondered further. "Oh no, it's 'Scallywags'. That's right."

The mind, it boggles.

[User Picture]From: painted_dreams
2010-08-21 16:05 (UTC)
I just don't understand how people can be so obliviously lol. A word like that would never have exited from my mouth (even if it actually was the name of something I was talking about).
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[User Picture]From: chibaraki
2010-08-21 20:43 (UTC)
My grandmother says all kinds of totally offensive things all the time. Partly this is because she is pushing 90 and when she grew up it was not considered inappropriate, partly it is because she is a big old racist, and partly it's because the woman has absolutely zero empathy whatsoever so if it doesn't offend her personally she cannot conceive that anyone could possibly be offended by it.

Which is to say I do understand how people get that oblivious -- they do it by some combination, I think, of racism, self-centeredness, and lack of empathy. So basically frequently by being people you don't really want to be around to start with.
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[User Picture]From: anthrokeight
2010-08-21 16:26 (UTC)
My grandmother used to call her grandchildren of mixed race "her pickininnies."

Just... oy! I mean, I know she was born in Arkansas before the War and all. But this was in the late 1980's. By then, she should have been past that.

Is it even remotely possible that this woman didn't know what the word means? I want to have a sister out-law!
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[User Picture]From: bryangb
2010-08-21 17:12 (UTC)
I suspect there's a whole group of people who are completely oblivious to the derogatory meanings that many people now associate with both those terms. After all, there was a time when Golly was just another of your kid's toys, alongside Teddy and Dolly.

Words are only as offensive as people choose or want them to be.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-08-22 15:39 (UTC)
The only trouble with requiring that is that a lot of people would simply never be able to speak.

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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-08-21 18:09 (UTC)
Indeed. Sister-out-law wondered if the woman has figured it out yet. I said if she gets an apology at the next lunch, she'll know!
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[User Picture]From: giles
2010-08-21 21:08 (UTC)
I was going to say "Oh come on now, that guy was still on jam jars when I was growing up."

Then I remembered how bloody old I am.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-08-22 15:38 (UTC)
In more recent times, there was a huge kerfuffle in the British media when Carol Thatcher said someone looked like a golliwog. It was all over the papers. I can't imagine how she missed it.
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[User Picture]From: victorine
2010-08-21 21:25 (UTC)
I've never heard that term, thanks for the link. People are sometimes oblivious, but that's still no excuse in my mind. There was a 19 year old girl (and I mean GIRL) in my massage therapy class. One day I asked her where she'd got the chicken she was eating for lunch because it looked yummy. She replied, "from the gook store across the street." (with a totally straight face.) I blinked and said, "where?" and she must have realized her faux pas because she answered, "from the convenience store across the street." I just said, "Oh." It took a minute for it to sink in that she had actually said that. I'm pretty sure she didn't mean it in a malicious way, but the fact that she said it so casually was a shocker. I feel like I should have said something, like "You know that's a really offensive word for an Asian, right?" I mean, she certainly wouldn't have said, "the nigger store across the street." She'd get her teeth knocked down her throat. I was just too stunned to say anything constructive to her. It had been a really long time since anyone had said anything so overtly racist to me. I was sort of getting used to being just a person rather than the Korean chick. (although the guy at the 24 hour deli used to call me "that hot Asian chick" when he thought I wasn't listening, but that's different)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-08-22 15:48 (UTC)
Good grief. That reminds me of the time I had a (white female) acquaintance at university pointedly call me out because I didn't tell her in advance that my then-boyfriend was Chinese before she met him. I was totally confused by this, and when I asked her why it was important, she couldn't give me an answer. Instead, she got really angry and stopped speaking to me. I'm still not exactly sure what that was about, but can only conclude some degree of racism must have been involved. Heaven knows whether or not she realized I was part Asian!
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[User Picture]From: sekl
2010-08-22 00:36 (UTC)
People are just, wow.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-08-22 15:42 (UTC)
When people wonder why I spend so much time nurturing an online community of like-minded friends whom I'm likely never to meet in real life, I tell them stories like this.
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[User Picture]From: feylike
2010-08-24 03:34 (UTC)
wow. i hadn't been familiar with that term before, and it sounds awfully similar to the innocuous (hopefully; i am unaware of any potentially offensive meanings) "polliwog". it does make me wonder if any words that seem innocuous to me actually have racist undertones.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-08-26 19:40 (UTC)
It's an unsettling feeling, isn't it? I don't think the Golliwog dolls on which the term is based were nearly as common in America as they were in Britain, seeing as they were British characters.
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[User Picture]From: senusert
2010-08-25 08:46 (UTC)

Good Grief!

That's innapropriately funny, but surely you'd think before you said that....
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-08-26 19:41 (UTC)
Sister-out-law laughed while she told the story, but I think she was simultaneously pretty horrified.
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