Your opinion about racism is appreciated.

There is an interesting comment on one of my artworks. I would like to ask my followers. What do they think?

9 thoughts on “Your opinion about racism is appreciated.

  1. It seems an innocent title to me. It’s important to be aware of racial stereotyping and to stamp it out firmly, but it is best not to see offence where none was intended.
    I remember being in a cafe with a new baby grandchild. A group of Chinese tourists were smiling benignly at him, as we all do on the newborn. Then one of the women touched her nose and exchanged smiles with the others: it was evident that a group of Chinese people were amused at the size of the nose of an Anglo-Saxon baby. Perfectly understandable. We were amused, not offended.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you didn’t take it as an offense when the tourists smiled about your grandchild’s nose.

      However, I think there may be an asymmetry here. In the current global order, I think it is safe to say that there is more racism against East Asians than against Anglo Saxons: one is more likely to be looked down on, spat at, and beaten for being an East Asian rather than an Anglo Saxon. Such asymmetry became worse after the pandemic, but it was certainly present before.

      Therefore, I suspect that, unfortunately, if a group of Anglo Saxon people similarly expressed amusement about a Chinese baby’s nose, the parents would likely be offended. While there may have been no bad intention, I think it is reasonable for the Chinese parents to be offended, because the baby’s racial characteristic can be used against her/him.

      If this doesn’t ring a bell, imagine a male stranger emulating big breasts with his gestures when walking by a woman. I think this will likely seem offensive, and the woman may feel unsafe, although big breasts are a symbol of sexual appeal, which is not a bad thing in and of itself. I think this is because the act of noting the symbol of sexual appeal also alludes to the potential of exploitation due to the power imbalance between genders, whether or not the man proclaims innocence of intention.

      This is in contrast to a situation where a female stranger emulates, say, big biceps when walking by a man. I think most people will find it less offensive and less threatening, because it wouldn’t allude to the potential of exploitation given the power imbalance that favors men.

      In short, I think that when there is a power imbalance between groups (due to prejudice or otherwise), noting the characteristics of the weaker group can be threatening and can be offensive.

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      1. Hello Yul, and thank you for the courtesy and restraint in your comment. I have been thinking about your argument and would like to say that I find racism abhorrent.So too other kinds of prejudice. As you can see from my photo, I have to be sensitive on these issues given my own privilege in society. I suppose I am reaching out for a world in which we can respect and celebrate the differences among us all. I had seen H Schlagen’s post as part of that celebration. Best wishes, John

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Let’s suppose someone said “Germans paint, too”. The fact that they bothered to say “too” at the end would expose a presumption that Germans are usually not expected to paint, at least not properly. Such a presumption is certainly invalid. It would also sound demeaning or condescending to many people who value painting. Because the statement expresses a demeaning presumption about a racial group, it would be racist, although how strongly it is can be judged differently by different people.

    If this doesn’t ring a bell, also consider “Women do math, too”. While on the face value it is a true statement, the fact that “too” was inserted can also make it sound like women usually don’t do math, at least not properly. It can certainly sound sexist when, say, spoken by a male math professor. In fact, such condescension is so common that it gave rise to a well-known satire goods business, where they mirror such statements (https://manwhohasitallshop.com/product/hers-his-professor-bundle/).

    The same goes for the title in question (“Chinese girls wear earrings too” [sic]). Of course there’s nothing unusual about Chinese girls wearing earrings, so it sounds like they don’t usually wear them properly. That’s why it can sound racist.

    Given such statements, a German, a woman, or a Chinese person can decide whether to take offense, to be tolerant, or even to be a good sport and to smile it off. That said, I think an outsider should be very careful before prescribing whether one should be offended or not by a statement. Many racist and sexist comments and catcalls are made without an intention to harass, but it doesn’t automatically undo the offense when the commenter proclaims no bad intention. I think the priority should be to tell the commenters to be more sensitive, rather than to tell the victims to be more tolerant.

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